Tags: cancellations | airline | cold | JetBlue

Airline Sales Seen Cut Up to $150 Million on January Storms

Monday, 03 Feb 2014 02:59 PM

U.S.-based airlines lost as much as $150 million in revenue in the first month of 2014 after winter storms canceled about as many flights as the past three Januarys combined, industry data tracker masFlight said.

More than 49,000 flights, or more than four times as many as last year, were scrapped, according to Bethesda, Maryland-based masFlight, costing carriers from $75 million to $150 million. Another 300,000 flights were delayed. The disruptions inconvenienced some 30 million passengers and cost them more than $2.5 billion in expenses like hotel rooms and meals, masFlight said.

Cancellations continued into February, with more than 1,500 flights grounded as of midday today, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based airline tracking company. The three major airports in the New York City area, which could see as much as 8 inches of snow, were reporting delays of as much as three hours, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

“It’s a little more severe because it was concentrated in the Northeast where we have some of our busiest airports in the country,” David Swierenga, president of aviation consultant AeroEcon in Round Rock, Texas, said of the January cancellations.

The first month of this year saw four of the 10 coldest days during the 21st century in the contiguous 48 states and record snowfall across the U.S. Chicago was at one point colder than the South Pole and an ice storm stranded thousands of drivers on Atlanta-area highways.

JetBlue Airways Corp., based in New York, was one of the most affected airlines, canceling 1,800 flights over a five-day period at the beginning of the year.

Topping Sandy

Regional airlines took the brunt of the cancellations accounting for 67 percent of the total, or 32,000 flights, according to masFlight. The groundings topped those during Hurricane Sandy in late October and early November of 2012, and back-to-back storms in February 2010.

Two regulatory changes in the past four years have also led to increased flight cancellation rates, masFlight said.

Beginning in 2010, the U.S. Transportation Department imposed fines of as much as $27,500 for every instance in which an airline held passengers onboard on the ground without opportunity to deplane for more than three hours for a domestic flight or four hours for an international leg.

As a result, airlines began returning to the gate before the deadline, tying up gates and leading to cancellations for returning flights, masFlight said.

New federal rules for pilots’ work and rest hours that took effect Jan. 4 also have made it harder for airlines to recover from weather disruptions, masFlight said, as pilots reached their time limit on the ground while flights were delayed.

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U.S.-based airlines lost as much as $150 million in revenue in the first month of 2014 after winter storms canceled about as many flights as the past three Januarys combined, industry data tracker masFlight said.
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2014-59-03
Monday, 03 Feb 2014 02:59 PM
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