Flight cancellations pile up again, top 2,500 by Sunday evening

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With travelers trying to head home at the end of the holiday season, airlines had canceled more than 2,500 flights in the United States by Sunday evening, some caused by New Year’s Day snowstorms in Chicago and Denver, two of the country’s major flight hubs.

At 6:30 p.m. Sunday, the number of cancellations stood at 2,560 nationwide and was slowly rising, according to FlightAware, a website that tracks commercial aviation. More than 2,700 flights were canceled Saturday.

At Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, 290 outbound flights had been canceled, or 27% of the total, and Chicago Midway International Airport lost 43 outbound flights, or 15% of its daily total. The number of outbound flight cancellations at the two airports, 333, was down from the 539 recorded Saturday.

Another 262 flights headed to O’Hare, and 22 into Midway, were scrubbed Sunday, according to FlightAware.

Chicago saw about three inches of snowfall on New Year’s Day, which was a rarity, according to the Chicago Tribune. The Windy City has received more than one inch of snow on Jan. 1 only 12 times since 1872.

In the Washington, D.C. area, Reagan National Airport had counted 26 outbound cancellations so far Sunday, or 6% of its total planned flights. Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport saw 20 departing flights canceled, also 6%, and Dulles International Airport had 18 outbound flights canceled, or 3% of its planned total. For inbound flights, National reported 55 cancellations, Dulles 39 and BWI 30.

Officials at the Transportation Security Administration said Sunday that about 1,778 employees have active covid-19 infections and are staying home. However, the agency said it has the staffing it needs to cover current flight schedules and passenger volumes.

The agency said that roughly 1.6 million people passed through airport checkpoints on Jan. 1 compared with roughly 1.2 million on the same day in 2021.

SkyWest Airlines, a regional carrier that operates shorter flights as Delta Connection, United Express and American Eagle, reported the highest number of cancellations—538, or 22% of its total. Southwest Airlines, which flies heavily through Chicago, had grounded 429 flights, or 11%, by 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

JetBlue canceled 171 of its flights Sunday, 16% of its total. Delta, with 175 cancellations, American, with 159, and United, with 111, knocked about 5% of their flights from their schedules.

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