Nearly 1,500 U.S. flights were canceled Wednesday, the 11th straight day of more than 1,000 cancellations, marking the airline industry’s worst stretch since the start of the pandemic.
Airlines also delayed more than 1,700 flights by midday Wednesday, according to aviation data tracker FlightAware. Carriers have now canceled more than 21,000 flights since Christmas Eve.
In 2020, the airline industry went through a brutal stretch from late March to early May, when it canceled nearly one-third of all scheduled flights, scrubbing thousands of trips daily for 47 straight days. Carriers slashed flights as travel demand collapsed and border restrictions were imposed during the pandemic’s early weeks in the U.S.
The latest wave of cancellations comes as winter storms in the Midwest and East Coast regions have complicated flight plans. A number of airlines also have struggled with staff shortages as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 drives a surge in reported infections.
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Southwest Airlines Co. canceled 457 flights by midday Wednesday, about 15% of its schedule for the day, and delayed 321, according to FlightAware. The airline said bad weather at its hubs in Baltimore, Denver and Chicago prompted many of the cancellations.
SkyWest Inc. , a commuter carrier that flies on behalf of four major airlines, scrapped 263 flights by midday Wednesday, 11% of its West Coast-focused flights for the day, and delayed an additional 167 trips, according to FlightAware. The company didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Alaska Air Group Inc. canceled 111 flights by midday Wednesday, 16% of its scheduled flights for the day, and delayed another 25.
“Like many other airlines, this latest surge of Covid is driving higher-than-usual absences among all our workgroups,” an Alaska Air Group spokeswoman said. “This is compounded by the residual impacts of winter weather in several of our key hubs.”
JetBlue, which has scrubbed more than 100 flights over the last seven days, canceled only two by midday Wednesday. The carrier didn’t respond to a request for comment. It has previously said it would trim its schedule through mid-January, citing more of its employees contracting Covid-19.
American Airlines canceled just 13 flights by midday Wednesday, after scrapping more than 500 from Saturday through Monday. The company declined to comment.
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