Flights cancelled as cold snap crosses U.S.

Ed Dufner (c) 2014, Bloomberg News

Airlines are scrapping U.S. flights again Friday, pushing the total past 9,000 in four days, as they struggle to rebuild schedules after fresh Midwest snow added to disruptions from last week’s Northeast storm.

Canceled departures and arrivals topped 1,500 at Chicago’s major airports, O’Hare International and Midway International, the city’s aviation department said Sunday. Snowfall in the area was forecast to be as deep as 10 inches (25 centimeters), the National Weather Service said on its website.

The foul weather came as the first full work week of the new year got under way and the holiday travel season drew to a close. Chicago-based United Airlines and New York-based JetBlue Airways Corp. were among the carriers trying to rebook fliers who missed connections or who found themselves stranded as their trips were scrubbed.

- FWBP Digital Partners -

“We are working hard to reset the operation and get people where they’re going, but it will take days, not hours,” JetBlue said in an advisory on its website.

Cancellations for Friday already totaled almost 1,400 by late Sunday, according to Houston-based FlightAware. Airlines scrubbed more than 3,100 flights Sunday and had delays on about 7,000 more, according to FlightAware, whose tallies include all trips, not just those affected by weather.

United, a unit of United Continental Holdings, and its commuter partners were among the hardest hit by cancellations, FlightAware data showed. United warned fliers of possible delays in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Denver, Minneapolis and Charlotte, N.C. All those cities are home to hub airports for major U.S. airlines.

Southwest Airlines, the busiest carrier at Midway, had more than half of Sunday’s flights across its system canceled or late, according to FlightAware. JetBlue said last week’s storm, planes filled by holiday travelers and pilot-scheduling rules “combined to significantly impact our operations.”

- Advertisement -

“We have few options available, further hindered by incoming weather (icing conditions) in the Northeast,” the airline said on its website.

The coldest temperatures in almost two decades are moving into the northern and central U.S. behind an arctic cold front, with “life-threatening” wind chill values as low as 60 degrees below zero, the National Weather Service said.

The front followed a fast-moving winter storm that brought 14.6 inches of snow to Boston’s Logan International Airport on Jan. 3 and 6 inches to Manhattan’s Central Park. At least 11 people died in the inclement weather, most in traffic accidents blamed on slick roads, according to the Associated Press.

Spot wholesale electricity prices jumped from the Midwest to the Northeast on Jan. 3 as low temperatures and heavy snow lifted demand. Natural gas futures rose on the outlook for plunging temperatures.

- Advertisement -

New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport halted flight operations for two hours Sunday after a regional jet being operated for Delta Air Lines with 35 passengers on board skidded into a snowbank.

Flight 4100 from Toronto slid into the bank while turning onto a taxiway after landing safely, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said in an e-mailed statement. No injuries were reported and the plane was towed from the airfield, the agency said.

The flight was operated by Endeavor Air, formerly Pinnacle Airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

— With assistance from Brian K. Sullivan in Boston, Debarati Roy in New York and Dan Hart in Washington.