Airline cancellations in the U.S. surged to the most since 2012’s Hurricane Sandy as a winter storm battered hub airports in New York, the nation’s biggest aviation market, and elsewhere along the East Coast.
“Anybody who’s operating in the northeast corridor is having a bad day today,” Josh Marks, chief executive officer of industry data tracker MasFlight, said in a telephone interview.
About 5,800 flights in the U.S. today had been scrubbed as of 10 a.m. New York time, the most since Sandy forced airlines to drop 7,400 flights on Oct. 29, 2012, MasFlight reported. Yesterday’s 4,100 cancellations were the fourth-highest tally this winter, according to Bethesda, Maryland-based MasFlight.
Geography and meteorology are converging to make the travel disruptions so extensive. The storm brought heavy snow from Virginia to Maine, blanketing a region that includes New York’s three major airports and sending ripples across the country by sealing off much of the busiest U.S. airspace.
Washington’s three airports and Philadelphia International each had more than 70 percent of departures grounded, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, the largest U.S. airport by traffic, had 35 percent of scheduled takeoffs removed, Houston-based data provider FlightAware reported.
Atlanta is a hub for Delta Air Lines Inc., and Philadelphia and Washington’s Reagan National are bases for US Airways, now a part of American Airlines Group Inc. American, Delta and United Continental Holdings Inc. each operate hubs at one or more of the New York airports -- New York City’s LaGuardia and Kennedy, and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty.
JetBlue Airways Corp. has canceled 304 of 828 scheduled departures today, according to an e-mail from the New York-based carrier. With bases in Boston and New York, JetBlue has been one of the most affected airlines this winter, with 1,800 trips scrapped in a five-day span in January.
“This is typical, standard-issue, garden-variety winter weather that airlines have to deal with,” Jennifer Dervin, a spokeswoman, said after the carrier scrubbed all its New York and Boston service this morning.
MasFlight’s Marks took a longer view of the travel disruptions, which included a projected $150 million in added costs and lost revenue for U.S.-based airlines in January and $2.5 billion in extra expenses for passengers. Cancellations for 2014 have totaled 73,400, with this week’s count surpassing 13,000 flights, according to MasFlight.
“This week alone is worse than the worst winter months in prior years,” Marks said.
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