Airline Cancellations Exceed 2,500 in U.S. as Cold Follows Storm

Photographer: Julio Cortez/AP Photo

Travelers arrive at Newark Liberty International Airport, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in Newark, New Jersey. Close

Travelers arrive at Newark Liberty International Airport, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in Newark, New Jersey.

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Photographer: Julio Cortez/AP Photo

Travelers arrive at Newark Liberty International Airport, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in Newark, New Jersey.

Airlines scrapped more than 2,500 flights across the U.S. and ran late with thousands of others as an arctic cold front and new snow in the Midwest added to disruptions from last week’s Northeast storm.

Canceled departures and arrivals topped 1,100 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, the most in the U.S. today, industry data tracker FlightAware.com reported. “Heavy snow” was falling at midday local time, and a winter storm warning was in effect, the National Weather Service said on its website.

The foul weather came just ahead of the first full work week of the new year and at the close of the holiday travel season. Chicago-based United Airlines (UAL) and New York-based JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU) were among the carriers trying to rebook passengers who missed connections or who found themselves stranded as their trips were scrubbed.

“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.

FlightAware tallied 2,524 cancellations in the U.S. and 3,530 delayed flights at 2 p.m. New York time. The count from the Houston-based company includes all trips, not just those affected by weather.

Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg

A pedestrian covers her face to keep warm in New York, on Jan. 3, 2014. Close

A pedestrian covers her face to keep warm in New York, on Jan. 3, 2014.

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Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg

A pedestrian covers her face to keep warm in New York, on Jan. 3, 2014.

United, a unit of United Continental Holdings Inc., and its commuter partners were among the hardest hit by cancellations, the FlightAware data showed. United had 379 canceled flights today, or 15 percent of its main jet operations, while JetBlue’s 455 delays were 48 percent of its schedule, according to FlightAware.

‘Significantly Impact’

Holiday travel, the winter storm and pilot scheduling rules “have combined to significantly impact our operations,” JetBlue told customers. “We have few options available, further hindered by incoming weather (icing conditions) in the Northeast.”

United said on its website that disruptions were possible in the New York region, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Denver, Minneapolis and Charlotte, North Carolina. All those cities are home to hub airports for major U.S. airlines.

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

Two of four runways at the airport, one of three serving the New York metropolitan area, opened shortly after 10 a.m., according to an advisory on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s website.

Delta Partner

Flight 4100 from Toronto was carrying 35 passengers when it slid into the bank while turning onto a taxiway after landing safely, the Port Authority 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, a separate e-mail from the Federal Aviation Administration said.

A freezing rain advisory is in effect for the New York City area, including northeast New Jersey and Long Island’s Nassau County, through 4 p.m., the National Weather Service said in an advisory. The coldest temperatures in almost two decades are set to move into the northern and central U.S. today behind an arctic cold front, with “life-threatening” wind chill values as low as 60 degrees below zero, the service’s website said.

North Dakota

The cold front comes on the heels of a fast-moving winter storm that brought 14.6 inches (37 centimeters) 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.

The coldest air today is across the Dakotas and Minnesota, said Tom Kines, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.com in State College, Pennsylvania. Chill warnings stretch from eastern Montana to western West Virginia.

Minot, North Dakota, and International Falls, Minnesota, are the coldest spots in the U.S. today with temperatures each of minus 19 degrees, according to the weather service. The forecast tomorrow calls for more of the same for the Dakotas as well as Minnesota, the agency said. The cold also will stretch south and eastward to Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Detroit, Kines said.

Temperatures in the Midwest and northern Plains should ease up by Jan. 8, he said.

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.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ed Dufner in Dallas at edufner@bloomberg.net; Debarati Roy in New York at droy5@bloomberg.net; Dan Hart in Washington at dahart@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net; Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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