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Tags: Airline | Delays | Cancellations | Winter Weather

Airline Consultant: Weather Flight Disruptions Cost $1.4 Billion

By    |   Wednesday, 08 January 2014 01:32 PM EST

An intense wave of Northeast winter storms forced major airline carriers to halt operations, costing airlines and frustrated passengers $1.4 billion, according to an airline-consulting firm.

Michael Boyd, president of the Boyd Group, told CNBC that “the [$1.4 billion] is probably an accurate number ... but it includes everything."

Delays and cancellations spanning from Jan. 1 to Jan. 6 included 95,000 delays and cancellations resulting in a loss of $452 million for the airlines and costing passengers roughly $1 billion, according to MasFlight, an aviation operations technology company in Bethesda, Md.

The travelers not only lost productivity but also had to pay for meals and hotels because of delayed or canceled flights, the Los Angeles Times cited the MasFlight study as saying.

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"I don't want to make light of it, but this is not going to be as big a hit to the airline industry overall for the year as it might look today,” Boyd explained to CNBC.

In an effort to protect passengers and airline crew, Jetblue grounded all flights in the New York and Boston areas for 17 hours, taking the hardest hit of all the carriers.

"I think what JetBlue did is the right thing. You can't operate, you shut it down," Boyd said. "The reality is JetBlue probably inconvenienced thousands fewer by doing what they did."

The cities experiencing most of the delays were in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, New Jersey and Atlanta, affecting more than 8 million passengers, according to the flight-monitoring site Flightstats.com

In the customer recovery section of JetBlue’s website, company officials informed passengers that they have resumed regular operations in the Northeast and established a compensation plan to address customers who were affected by delays and cancellations.

Depending on the level of impact, customers will receive TrueBlue points, flight credit and or monetary compensation.

In a conference call with reporters, JetBlue Chief Operating Officer Rob Maruster said, "we absolutely did the right thing because when you're doing things for safety reasons — for your people and assets and customers — I think we're doing them the best service possible no matter what the short-term pain is," he said. "I just think we have a safety-first mentality here."

Maruster told reporters that 150,000 of its passengers were affected in some way. While it is too early to provide a cost estimate of the fiasco, when weather is to blame, airlines are not legally bound to provide much compensation.

"We want to get to the most severe cases to let them know what we are going to be doing about it by way of an apology and compensation," Maruster said, according to USA Today.

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An intense wave of winter storms wreaked hacov in the Northeast, causing major airline carriers to suspend and ultimately shut down operations costing airlines and passengers $1.4 billion and leaving passengers miffed.
Airline,Delays,Cancellations,Winter Weather
Wednesday, 08 January 2014 01:32 PM
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