Severe Weather Dampens Holiday Travel, Shopping On one of the busiest travel days of the year, there's severe weather in much of the country. Marketplace's John Dimsdale talks with Alex Chadwick about how the weather will affect the travel industry's bottom line this holiday weekend.
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Severe Weather Dampens Holiday Travel, Shopping

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Severe Weather Dampens Holiday Travel, Shopping

Severe Weather Dampens Holiday Travel, Shopping

Severe Weather Dampens Holiday Travel, Shopping

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On one of the busiest travel days of the year, there's severe weather in much of the country. Marketplace's John Dimsdale talks with Alex Chadwick about how the weather will affect the travel industry's bottom line this holiday weekend.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Back now with DAY TO DAY. This is one of the busiest travel days of the year, so don't look for a lot of cheer at the nation's airports. Denver is just re-opening after the blizzard. Holiday travelers all over the country are going to be feeling the ripple effects even after Christmas.

We're joined by MARKETPLACE's John Dimsdale. How is it out there, John?

JOHN DIMSDALE: Well, the airlines are asking people not even to come to the airport unless they've confirmed that their flight will be taking off. Even though your plans might not take you anywhere near Denver, your airplane could still be frozen on the ground there.

United Airlines alone has canceled 2,000 flights, so you can imagine the lines at counters and the busy signals when you try calling for information or rebooking. Some passengers can't get new flights to their destinations until next Wednesday, so there's going to be some disappointed families at Christmas dinner.

And it's not just here in the U.S. One of the biggest hubs in Europe, London's Heathrow Airport, has been socked in by thick fog for several days now, and it's not expected to lift until the weekend. So it's no better for travelers in Europe.

CHADWICK: With so much travel now and with so many airlines in financial trouble, you have to wonder about what this weekend is going to mean for their profits, all these complications.

DIMSDALE: Yeah. We've talked before about how the airlines cut back on flights to fill up their planes, but fewer empty seats makes it harder for people to find alternatives. This blizzard happened at the wrong time in the wrong place for United and Frontier, which will be hit with millions in lost revenue and extra expenses to re-route their passengers.

Estimates are United will lose about $10 million. Frontier, which recently lowered its earnings forecast from a break-even to a loss, could be hit almost as hard, and the Denver Airport will lose nearly a half a million in landing-fee revenue and have some horrendous extra overtime and plowing bills.

CHADWICK: Not good for the airlines or the passengers.

DIMSDALE: You know, in the old days, the airlines used to treat their passengers to meals and even hotel rooms when flights were delayed or canceled, but in today's cut-throat, cost-cutting competition, that just doesn't fit in the business model. Passengers have had to fend for themselves. They're turning airport corridors into dorm rooms. It sounds like it's going to be that way for a while.

Coming up later today on MARKETPLACE, a subject dear to our hearts: the history of radio. More specifically, the role music played in shaping modern radio and creating an industry. Have a good holiday, Alex.

CHADWICK: Thank you, John. We'll listen for that. John Dimsdale of public radio's daily business show MARKETPLACE from American Public Media.

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