The “climate bomb” paralyzes North American air traffic

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Ice has largely covered the tarmac at Sea-Tac International Airport. ©Alaska Airlines

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Ice has largely covered the tarmac at Sea-Tac International Airport. ©Alaska Airlines

According to flight tracking site Flight Aware, 2,200 flights were canceled on Thursday, December 22, 2022 with more than 6,900 delayed. Cancellations continued, on December 23 with 3,900 canceled flights.

-55°C recorded on the thermometer in places, roads blocked, the northern part of the United States is currently facing extreme weather which is also paralyzing air traffic. On Friday, December 23, Chicago’s O’Hare Int’l Airport, for example, saw more than 519 canceled flights, or 49% of the schedule. At Seattle-Tacoma Airport (SEA), 161 flights were canceled or 28% of the flight schedule. The same trend is also observed in Denver, Dallas and New York. Canadian airports are also not spared by this “climate bomb”.

Faced with the announced losses, which are very significant for a Christmas period, some airlines have already opted for systematic cancellations to limit damage. This is the case for Alaska Airlines which has just canceled, for December 24, all its flights from Portland. Departing from Seattle, it was the closure of the tracks due to dangerous weather conditions, which caused their cancellation. This corresponds to a volume of 550 flights for December 23, just for Alaska Airlines.

At the end of the week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was thus seized in order to develop a specific protocol, with a view to mitigating these disturbances. It therefore imposed longer than usual ground stops or delays for de-icing due to these very specific conditions. However, air traffic should still be very largely disrupted until the beginning of next week. Seattle airport regulators announced that “Even when the runways are reopened, it will take hours to get the apron, ramps and aircraft back to a safe and usable condition. »

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