By BRYAN GALLION and PAUL WISEMAN
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The latest COVID-19 variant is upending holiday plans for tens of thousands of travelers — but it didn’t do much damage to holiday shopping. Airlines canceled hundreds more flights Sunday, citing staffing problems tied to COVID-19, as the nation’s travel woes extended beyond Christmas. There was no clear indication when normal schedules would resume. But shoppers shrugged off the omicron variant, and holiday sales rose at the fastest pace in 17 years. Omicron is likely to slow the economy’s unexpectedly strong rebound from last year’s coronavirus recession and could add more heat to already simmering inflation. But it’s not yet clear how deep the hurt will go or how long it will last.