A “bomb cyclone” walloped the northeastern US on Saturday, disrupting travel and forcing hundreds of flight cancellations to and from airports in the storm’s path. More than 4,600 flights scheduled for Saturday were canceled by the late morning, with a similar number of delays.
The disruptions were concentrated in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia area airports. Snowfall forecast for the Northeast ranged from just a few inches to as many as 20 inches in some areas, according to the National Weather Service. Accumulation was predicted to be one to two inches per hour in places, with whiteout conditions.
About 80% of flights scheduled to depart from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday were canceled as of Saturday morning, as were 72% of flights heading for the airport, according to FlightAware. Those figures were 90% and 78%, respectively, at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, and about 97% each at LaGuardia Airport in New York.
Some 93% of flights originating at Boston Logan International Airport—New England’s largest air-travel hub—were canceled on Saturday, along with 91% of flights scheduled to arrive there. Smaller hubs across the region, including Bradley International Airport in Connecticut and TF Green International Airport in Rhode Island, also saw the vast majority of their flights canceled on Saturday.
It has been an exceedingly tough stretch for airlines, which have faced staff shortages and soaring fuel prices just as demand for air travel has started to recover from its pandemic doldrums. A tussle with
AT&T (ticker: T) and
Verizon Communications (VZ) about the use of certain wireless frequencies for their 5G networks near airports threatened disruptions in mid-January. Winter weather-related cancellations are only the latest headache.
JetBlue (JBLU) had canceled 68% of its flights, according to FlightAware, the most of the major US airlines.
United Airlines Holdings (UAL) had canceled 22%,
Delta Air Lines (DAL) 19%, and
American Airlines (AAL) 18%.
Privately held Republic Airways, which operates regional carriers for United, Delta, and American, had canceled 62% of its Saturday flights as of that morning. Delta subsidiary Endeavor Air had canceled 38%.
On Friday, Transportation Security Administration data showed about 1.6 million passengers passing through airport security checkpoints, compared with 775,000 on the same day last year. But that’s still down from the almost 2.2 million passengers traveling by air on the same day in January 2020.
A total of about 580 million people passed through US airport security in 2021—almost 80% more than the 2020 total, but still down 30% from prepandemic 2019.
Airline stocks have had a bumpy ride since the Omicron variant of Covid-19 began to make headlines in November.
American Airlines stock is down 21% since Thanksgiving, versus a 5% decline for the
United stock has lost 16% since the November holiday, while
Southwest Airlines (LUV) is down 9.5%, and Delta and
JetBlue have each slide about 6%. None of them have recovered to their prepandemic levels.
Write to Nicholas Jasinski at email@example.com