Storms ground US air travellers as airlines cancel flights

More than 1,100 flights for a second straight day because of thunderstorms hitting the East Coast


Published: Fri 5 Aug 2022, 11:51 PM

Tens of thousands of US flyers had their travel plans upended on Friday after airlines cancelled more than 1,100 flights for a second straight day because of thunderstorms hitting the East Coast.

The New York City area’s three major airports and Reagan National Airport outside Washington, DC, recorded the most cancellations by Friday afternoon, according to tracking service FlightAware.

American Airlines scrubbed more than 200 flights, or 6 per cent of its schedule. Republic Airways, which operates smaller planes for American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express, also cancelled more than 200 flights, about 20 per cent of its schedule.

Another 3,700 flights were delayed by midafternoon.

Thunderstorms were causing delays averaging more than 90 minutes at LaGuardia Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International in New Jersey, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA said storms also could cause delays at major airports from Florida to Boston.

About 1,200 US flights were cancelled Thursday - 4.6 per cent of all scheduled flights, and the highest number since July 25, according to FlightAware.

Travellers have been hit with widespread cancellations and delays this summer. Travel bounced back faster than expected — to about 88 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in July — and airlines weren’t able to increase staffing fast enough. They have been cutting back on schedules in an attempt to make remaining flights more reliable.

Airlines flying in the U.S. had a bad June, cancelling more than 21,000 flights or 2.7 per cent, up from 1.8 per cent, in June 2019, before airlines pushed workers to quit during the pandemic. The airlines did better in July, however, cancelling about 14,000 flights, or 1.8 per cent.

Delays have been more persistent — above 23 per cent in both June and July.

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