Dallas-based Southwest Airlines canceled more than 500 flights on Friday morning among more than 2,200 airline cancellations nationwide on Friday morning due to wintry weather on the East Coast and sick calls from the omicron variant of COVID-19.
Southwest canceled 519 flights on Friday morning, United canceled 177 and Fort Worth-based American Airlines has already canceled 161, according to flight tracking site Flightaware.com. Regional carriers Republic and SkyWest, both of which fly for American among other carriers, have cut an additional 470 combined flights. JetBlue also cut 156 flights.
In fact, the country’s six largest airlines had all cut more than 100 flights by early Friday morning.
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It has been a grueling two weeks for airlines, which initially faced an increase in COVID-19-related illness calls before temperatures plummeted across the country and caused snowstorms from across the country. Pacific Northwest to Rocky Mountains and Midwest to New England.
Friday’s cancellations were focused on the New York and Boston areas, where a winter storm dubbed “Garrett” is dumping more snow on the area after passing through the Great Plains and the Midwest. About a third of all flights to and from New York’s LaGuardia Airport are canceled for Friday, 340 in total. Boston’s Logan International Airport saw 242 additional flights cut, or more than a quarter of the arrival and departure schedule.
New York JFK International Airport and Newark Liberty all faced triple-digit flight cancellations and airports in Denver, Chicago and Washington, DC continued to see persistent cancellations due to snow and ice over early in the week.
We are currently experiencing an increase in flight disruptions and longer than usual customer service wait times due to a combination of winter conditions and staffing issues. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and are working diligently to assist customers. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/ZbroORcroB
– Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) January 6, 2022
Even though North Texas is free from snow, DFW International Airport still had 39 canceled flights on Friday and 40 canceled flights at Dallas Love Field.
In some ways, the timing couldn’t be better for the airlines, which are heading for their slowest time between the end of the Christmas holiday season and the spring break period in early March. U.S. airport traffic has fallen by about a quarter since the last big day of vacation travel on Sunday, when more than 2 million people passed through TSA checkpoints, the agency reported. Just over 1.5 million people passed through TSA checkpoints on Thursday.
Friday starts even worse than the last few days. Airlines in the United States have already passed 2,221 cancellations as of Thursday, although Southwest ended up cutting 658 flights. Still, the 518 Southwest flights canceled so far on Friday were almost entirely preventative cuts with more expected to be phased out as the day progresses.
But airlines still strive to have enough flight attendants and pilots to make sure they can get planes to their destinations. United, Spirit and Southwest Airlines started offering bonuses to workers this week to cover January flights.
“Normally we would start to feel some relief when stepping out of our peak vacation schedule, but that hasn’t happened yet – our operation continues to be strained by the winter weather at our airports. busier, and the pandemic has brought another wave to the world. the COVID-19 Omicron variant, ”Southwest said in a note to workers last week.