US flight cancellations ease a bit but still running high

AP , Tuesday 4 Jan 2022

Clearing weather over much of the eastern United States raised hopes that air-travel disruptions will ease after a dreadful start to the new year.

 O Hare International Airport in Chicago
File Photo: Travelers check departure screens for their flight status at O Hare International Airport in Chicago, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021. AP

By late Tuesday morning on the East Coast, airlines had scrubbed more than 1,200 flights for the day. That's a very high number but not compared with Monday's disruptions, which included more than 3,200 canceled flights.

Southwest Airlines canceled more than 300 flights, or 10% of its schedule Tuesday.

The number of canceled flights began rising Dec. 24, and several airlines blamed it on crew shortages due to the spreading omicron variant of COVID-19.

Over the weekend, the sickouts were compounded by winter storms that swept across the country.

About 2,700 US flights were canceled on Saturday and a similar number were grounded Sunday. Thousands more were delayed. In all, about 20,000 US flights have been canceled since Christmas Eve, according to FlightAware figures.

Many of the cancellations were made long before storms hit, based on weather forecasts. Airlines think that helps them operate at least a scaled-back schedule and avoid having planes and crews trapped in the wrong cities, but it frustrates passengers whose flights get canceled while it's still sunny outside.

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