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Fourth Northeast US Storm This Month Forces Thousands of Flight Cancellations


A pedestrian races across the snow-covered and tire-streaked street in Washington during a snow storm, March 21, 2018.

U.S. airlines canceled thousands of flights in the northeast on Wednesday as a swirl of strong winds, snow, sleet and ice from the fourth major storm this month crippled the region.

Airlines have scrapped more than 3,890 flights into and out of the United States, according to flight tracking website FlightAware, and nearly 1,000 other flights were delayed as the latest "nor'easter" dumped snow and ice on major cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Boston.

The cancellations pile on to thousands more canceled flights this season due to an unrelenting series of late-winter storms.

In addition to creating headaches for passengers, these storms can rack up millions of dollars in costs for airlines, as carriers reallocate aircraft and crew and swallow the cost of passengers who don't re-book travel for when the storm passes.

"This has been a much harsher late winter than we've seen for quite some time. It does have an impact on carriers' bottom lines," CFRA Research analyst Jim Corridore said.

While the full financial impact of the storms was not yet clear, Corridore said accurate forecasts helped carriers quickly move planes and crew and plan for resuming normal operations.

"There is a small silver lining in that it does help load factors and yields," he said, noting that passengers from canceled flights often help fill later flights that would have otherwise sat empty.

U.S. carriers are offering change-fee waivers from flights in the affected regions, including from New York's three major airports, Philadelphia International and Boston Logan International.

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