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Thousands of flights delayed, hundreds canceled amid Florida storms

DALLAS – As thunderstorms in Florida hampered traffic over spring break, airlines canceled hundreds of weekend flights, and thousands more were delayed.

According to the flight tracking website FlightAwaremore than 5,900 flights in the United States were delayed or canceled on Saturday.

Inbound travel at many Florida airports, including Orlando International Airport (MCO), Miami International Airport (MIA) and Tampa International Airport (TPA), has been slowed or completely interrupted on Saturday. Nearly a third of Orlando departures have been canceled, and another 42% have been delayed.

In mid-March, the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had already predicted that there would be an increase in traffic volume throughout the month, exceeding 90% of pre-pandemic levels.

American Airlines Airbus A321. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways

Thunderous Spring Break Disruptions

Thunderstorms are particularly difficult for airlines to predict and plan for, compared to other weather systems such as winter storms and hurricanes, which prompt airlines to cancel flights for hours or even days at a time. ‘advance.

Storm-related disruptions tend to snowball as crews and aircraft are left out of position for their missions. Airlines have scrambled to recruit staff to meet increased travel demand as COVID cases began to fall this winter. Last year, staff shortages worsened flight delays.

According to FlightAware, Southwest Airlines (WN) canceled 520 flights, or 14% of its Saturday schedule, and delayed 1,512 flights, or 43% of scheduled flights. About 10% of Southwest’s Sunday flights were canceled, while another 7% were delayed.

The airline had temporarily halted departures early in the day before storms caused delays in the southeastern tip of the United States to carry out checks on a main system it had reset as part of maintenance routine at night. These systems are used for a variety of functions, including pre-departure documentation.

Delta Airlines. Photo: Mathew Calise/Airways

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According to cnbc.comWN said in a message to flight attendants: “Our top priorities are protecting our crew network, ensuring crews have hotel accommodations, and minimizing the effects experienced by our customers as we work to avoid disruptions to their spring break travel plans.”

Price differences have been removed for affected customers so they can rebook online without having to wait on the phone, according to a spokeswoman for the airline.

American Airlines (AA) said in a statement: “Yesterday’s weather around Florida and resulting [air traffic control] the initiatives impacted our operations with most northbound and southbound routes through and into Florida affected…We are recovering from these disruptions today.

For its part, Delta Air Lines (DL) said the weather in Florida also had an impact on its operation on Saturday. About a fifth of each carrier’s Saturday schedules were delayed, or about 600 flights each.

This is a developing story.

Featured Image: Southwest Airlines. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

Cory E. Barnes

The author Cory E. Barnes