After more than 20,000 cancellations last week alone, Bloomberg reports that 2010/2011 has already seen the most airlines cancellations since the year the government first started collecting data in 1987.
On top of last week’s storm, a string of major storms along the East Coast this year has led to almost 90,000 total cancellations since November 1st. Those cancellations have led to an estimated $629 million in lost revenue for airlines according to Bloomberg.
The increase in weather-related cancellations is coming at a time where airlines are seeing positive, albeit fragile, growth. With over a month of winter left, more cancellations this winter could hinder many airline’s efforts to get out of the red and back on track in 2011.
“If this keeps up, it will really get ugly,” said Daniel Kasper, an airline economist with LECG LLC in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “It’s already brutal and it’s only the first week in February.”
The industry already was under increasing financial strain even without the snarls from snow and ice, with an 8.8 percent increase this year for jet fuel, one of the largest expenses for airlines.
According to Bloomberg, the previous record year for airlines was the winter of 2000/2001 where airlines cancelled 76,851 flights through the end of February.