Clearing weather over much of the eastern United States raised hopes that air-travel disruptions will ease after a dreadful start to the new year. By early Tuesday evening on the East Coast, airlines had scrubbed about 1,500 flights for the day.
That's a very high number but well below Monday's disruptions, which included more than 3,200 cancelled flights. Southwest Airlines cancelled about 400 flights, or 12% of its schedule Tuesday. Airlines had already cancelled nearly 500 US flights for Wednesday, according to FlightAware.
The number of cancelled flights began rising Dec 24, and several airlines blamed it on crew shortages due to the spreading omicron variant of COVID-19. Over the weekend, the sickouts were compounded by winter storms that swept across the country.
About 2,700 US flights were cancelled on Saturday and a similar number were grounded Sunday. Thousands more were delayed. In all, about 20,000 US flights have been cancelled since Christmas Eve, according to FlightAware figures.
Airlines often cancelled flights long before storms hit, based on weather forecasts. Airlines think that by operating a reduced schedule they will avoid having planes and crews trapped in the wrong cities, but it frustrates passengers whose flights get cancelled while it's still sunny outside.