A total of 959 U.S. flights have been canceled so far in the U.S. over the Memorial Day weekend, as poor weather conditions and Covid-19-related staff shortages hamper aviation operations.
According to flight-tracking platform FlightAware, 565 flights arriving in or departing from the United States were canceled and 5204 were delayed Saturday, 394 were canceled and 2746 were delayed.
Delta Air Lines was the U.S.-based airline with the most weekend cancellations to date, 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 that Saturday’s 254 cancellations were due to unfavorable weather and “air traffic control actions,” adding that it is trying to give passengers at least 24 hours notice of cancellations.
Delta’s service is also being impacted by staff absences due to Covid-19, Allison Ausband, the airline’s chief customer experience officer, said in a statement.
With 88 canceled flights, Newark Airport was the US airport of origin with the most cancellations, followed by Atlanta Airport with 82 canceled flights and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York with 51 canceled flights.
AAA predicts 3 million people will fly this weekend, a 25% increase from 2021 as leisure travel approaches pre-pandemic levels. In the seven-day period ending Saturday, the Transportation Security Administration said it screened about 2.2 million passengers a day at airport checkpoints, a 29% increase from the same period in 2021 and more than sevenfold increase from 2020, and a decrease of only 5% from the same period in pre-pandemic 2019.
What to watch out for
Delta announced Thursday that it will reduce its service by about 100 flights per day from July 1 to August 7, impacting mainly the US and Latin American markets. The airline cited weather, staffing levels and Covid-19 employee cases for the cancellations.
The current streak of flight cancellations comes after 2,616 U.S. flights were canceled on Jan. 1, a 61% increase from the previous New Year’s Day. The Federal Aviation Administration attributed these cancellations in part to the spread of the ommicron variant of the coronavirus, forcing airlines to cut headcount. The current cancellations come as Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations rise in the United States and immunity to previous infections begins to wane.
A U.S. round-trip flight costs an average of $394 this Memorial Day, a 28% increase from Memorial Day 2019, according to travel data agency Hopper.
“U.S. flight cancellations hit new holiday peak – more than 2,600 scrapped on New Years Day” (Forbes)