Almost 1,000 U.S. Flights Canceled Over Memorial Day Weekend

Topline

A total of 959 U.S. flights have been canceled in the U.S. over the Memorial Day weekend so far, as bad weather conditions and Covid-19-related staffing shortages interfere with airline operations.

Key Facts

Some 565 flights arriving in or departing from the United States were canceled and 5,204 were delayed Saturday, while 394 were canceled and 2,746 were delayed Sunday, according to flight tracking platform FlightAware.

Delta Air Lines was the U.S.-based airline with the most cancellations over the weekend so far, with 413 cancellations and 790 delays, followed by Republic Airways with 137 delays and 522 cancellations and Cape Air with 67 cancellations and 84 delays, according to FlightAware.

Delta told CNN its 254 Saturday cancellations were due to unfavorable weather and “air traffic control actions,” adding that it is attempting to give passengers at least 24 hours’ notice of cancellations.

Delta’s service has also been affected by staff absences due to Covid-19, the airline’s Chief Customer Experience Officer Allison Ausband said in a statement.

With 88 canceled flights, Newark’s airport was the U.S. airport of origin with the most cancellations, followed by Atlanta’s airport with 82 canceled flights and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport with 51 canceled flights.

Tangent

AAA is forecasting 3 million people will fly over the weekend, an increase of 25% over 2021, as holiday travel nears pre-pandemic levels. In the seven-day period ending Saturday, the Transportation Security Administration said it screened about 2.2 million passengers per day at its airport checkpoints, up 29% from the same period in 2021 and a more than sevenfold increase from 2020, and down just 5% from the same period in pre-pandemic 2019.

What To Watch For

Delta announced Thursday it will reduce its service by about 100 flights per day from July 1 to August 7, primarily affecting markets in the U.S. and in Latin America. The airline cited weather, staffing levels and employee Covid-19 cases for the cancellations.

Key Background

The current raft of flight cancellations comes after 2,616 U.S. flights were canceled January 1, a 61% increase over the previous New Year’s Day. The Federal Aviation Administration attributed these cancellations in part to the spread of the coronavirus’ omicron variant, requiring airlines to reduce staffing numbers. The current cancellations come as Covid-19 infection and hospitalization rates rise in the United States and immunity from prior infection begins to wane.

Surprising Fact

U.S. round-trip airfare this Memorial Day will cost an average of $394, an increase of 28% compared to Memorial Day 2019, according to travel data firm Hopper.

Further Reading

“U.S. Flight Cancellations Hit New Holiday Peak—More Than 2,600 Scrapped On New Year’s Day” (Forbes)

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