Over 2,500 travel cancellations due to omicron variant

In commemoration of Jeju’s first charter flight, GVB hosted a greeting service in partnership with the A.B. Won Pat International Airport Authority. Jeju has canceled a number pf flights for December. (GVB file photo)

Over 2,500 bookings to Guam have already been canceled due to fears of the COVID-19 omicron variant.

According to Carl Gutierrez, president of the Guam Visitors Bureau, carriers have also reduced their schedules and airline seats.

“We were looking for those airlines coming in early December or mid-December, but there have been some cancellations,” Gutierrez said.

Among the cancelations, Jeju Air canceled seven flights, Jin Air canceled two flights, and T’way canceled four non-regular flights.

Air Busan still has no final decision, but the airline may also cancel all flights in December except for the Dec. 4 flight

Gutierrez also confirmed that Asiana has postponed the resumption of its Guam visit to a later date, possibly January.

GVB has been touting Asiana’s return to Guam after almost two decades.

According to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, Asiana postponed plans to resume flights to Guam in December in response to the spread of the new omicron coronavirus variant and the travel restrictions that resulted from this.

Asiana had been scheduled to reopen the Incheon-Guam route on Dec. 23, as rising vaccination rates in both Guam and Korea, as well as eased virus curbs, led to more travel demand.

“Asiana may be back by Jan. 30 next year. So, we’re still looking good, they’re just buying another month back. So we’re looking forward to getting that on,” Gutierrez said.

GVB vice president Gerry Perez said the cancellations due to the omicron variant were truly disappointing.

He said Guam visitor arrivals in November had been picking up, although not yet as high as pre-pandemic levels.

“For December, we had roughly 18,000 seats and this is a schedule by day and frequency. And then this dropped down to 16,000 seats, and then down to 13,000 seats,” Perez said.

Just last week, a Korean group incentive tour consisting of 500 visitors just canceled their planned tour of Guam also due to fears of the omicron variant.

“We would have had 500 more visitors except for their concern for COVID and everybody’s still worried about that,” Perez said.

He said the omicron variant may be a temporary setback for Guam tourism pending further clarification on the severity of the variant and the international travel restrictions recently imposed by Guam’s source markets.

The good news, Perez said, is that from initial findings the omicron variant doesn’t appear to be as severe as the delta variant.