Ice And Snow Forced Airlines To Cancel Thousands Of Flights

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The new year got off to a rough start for the airlines. The four largest airlines canceled more than 74,000 flights in January and February. Delta said poor weather cost it $90 million in revenue.


So far this winter, lots of snow and ice has forced major U.S. airlines to cancel more than 74,000 flights. At an aviation conference in New York yesterday, top executives of some of the nation's biggest airlines spoke about how those cancellations are affecting business.

NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: American Airlines said it cancelled 28,000 flights in January and February. Almost as many flights were grounded by United Continental. At Southwest 6,500 flights were cancelled.

Dan Baker of, says this has been an almost unprecedented winter for schedule interruptions, with 81,000 cancellations so far for all airlines. And the season isn't even over yet. Delta alone says it cancelled 17,000 flights costing it $90 million in revenue. But Baker also says the losses won't necessarily prevent Airlines such as Delta from making a profit this year.

DAN BAKER: It doesn't have a massive impact and the reality is that the early parts of the year, the winter months are not the airlines' most profitable. As the weather gets better in this hemisphere, they operate more flights and, you know, expect that people will pay more for them as well.

ZARROLI: Baker says airlines usually save some money when they cancel flights because they don't have to pay fuel and other expenses. And they can make up some of the money they lose by rebooking passengers on other flights. So the losses aren't crippling.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News.

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