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United Airlines expects year-end travel to top Thanksgiving despite omicron variant

A United Airlines 737 Max 8

Leslie Josephs | CNBC

United Airlines said Tuesday it expects to fly more passengers each day during the year-end holidays than Thanksgiving, a sign demand is holding up despite increased cases of the omicron variant.

The Chicago-based carrier forecast it will fly an average of 420,000 passengers a day from Dec. 16 through Jan. 3, up from an average of 400,000 a day over Thanksgiving, bringing it to about 87% of the number of travelers it flew in 2019, before the pandemic.

CEO Scott Kirby told reporters earlier this month that the airline had registered an increase in cancellations after the emergence of the omicron variant. Concerns over the variant sparked stricter rules for international travelers including the new U.S. requirement that all inbound passengers need to show proof of a negative Covid test taken within one day of departure, regardless of vaccination status.

Kirby said that cancellations were not as severe as during the delta variant of Covid in the summer.

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