Airlines’ cancel-early tactic pays off
NEW YORK — Canceling flights early ahead of bad weather paid off when a big post-Christmas blizzard hit: Not a single US flight was stuck for more than three hours.
Only three flights (operated by Delta, United, and Pinnacle) were stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours in the whole month — none because of the storm.
International flights weren’t counted, including Cathay Pacific and British Airways flights stuck over seven hours at Kennedy International in New York.
US airlines face fines of up to $27,000 per passengers for tarmac delays of more than three hours. From May, when the prohibition took effect, through December just 15 planes went past the three-hour mark, although no airline has been fined. There were 584 flights delayed for more than three hours in the same period a year earlier.
More than 300 flights waited between two and three hours on the tarmac in December. Still, that’s than the 371 flights that experienced similar delays a year before.
The December blizzard shut Northeast airports and led to nearly 10,000 cancellations by the 18 biggest US airlines. There were almost 20,000 cancellations overall in December.
US airlines operated 72 percent of flights on time in December, the same as the year before.