US flight cancellations hit a record level as COVID thins crews amid extreme climate.
Hundreds of flights were canceled throughout the United States by the afternoon of Saturday, making it the worst day of an already difficult week for the industry, which has been hampered by severe weather and staff shortages.
If the previous week’s trend continues, many more cancellations might be made by the end of the day. Heavy snowfall has been reported over most of the nation’s middle, prompting an increase in cancellations.
According to FlightAware, the aviation sector canceled hundreds of flights in the week ending Friday, a data source for the aviation industry. It represents around 5.7 percent of all planned flights.
Every major airline in the United States made significant cutbacks on Saturday. More than a half of the cancellations occurred at Chicago’s two airports, where heavy snow and severe winds were forecast throughout the day and into the next morning.
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According to the company, Southwest Airlines said it expected to cease operations at those airports on Saturday afternoon. The airline canceled almost 470 flights throughout the country, more than any other US carrier, accounting for around 13 percent of its scheduled flying schedule.
According to Southwest, “as always, safety is our number one priority,” and “for us, that includes preventing customers from traveling to airports to wait for long-delayed flights whenever we can avoid it,” the airline stated in a statement.
Delta Air Lines canceled 9 percent of its planned flights, while American and United Airlines each canceled 7 percent of their flights. United Airlines, which has its headquarters in Chicago, said that the statewide surge in coronavirus infections had impacted its capacity to staff flights and other airlines.
The cancellations add to a difficult period for the sector, including the conclusion of the Christmas season and the start of an exciting year marked by successes and failures.
Early in 2021, widespread immunizations paved the groundwork for a summer tourism boom, which was suppressed to some extent by the delta virus variety. The industry’s revival proceeded in the autumn, only to be hampered by introducing the omicron variety.
Millions of individuals have taken to the skies to travel inside the United States throughout the Christmas season.
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On most days, though, passenger traffic is still down by 15% or more compared to the same period last year. According to FlightAware, despite the recent upheaval, US airlines will cancel 1.5 percent of planned flights in 2021, compared to 1.6 percent in 2019.
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