Airborne virus shedding of the alpha, delta, omicron SARS-CoV-2 variants and influenza virus in hospitalized patientsAirborne transmission is an important transmission route for the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Epidemiological data indicate that certain SARS-CoV-2 variants, like the omicron variant, are associated with higher transmissibility. We compared virus detection in air samples between hospitalized patients infected with different SARS-CoV-2 variants or influenza virus. The study was performed during three separate time periods in which subsequently the alpha, delta, and omicron SARS-CoV-2 variants were predominant. In total, 79 patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and 22 patients with influenza A virus infection were included. Collected air samples were positive in 55% of patients infected with the omicron variant in comparison to 15% of those infected with the delta variant (p < 0.01). In multivariable analysis, the SARS-CoV-2 omicron BA.1/BA.2 variant (as compared to the delta variant) and the viral load in nasopharynx were both independently associated with air sample positivity, but the alpha variant and COVID-19 vaccination were not. The proportion of positive air samples patients infected with the influenza A virus was 18%. In conclusion, the higher air sample positivity rate of the omicron variant compared to previous SARS-CoV-2 variants may partially explain the higher transmission rates seen in epidemiological trends.