The latest winter storm has affected travel throughout the state including flights heading out of the airports. CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the storm is giving airlines and passengers a problem that can’t be fixed right away.
“On a good day, the airlines are flying at about 86 percent load factors,” said Greenberg. “So if you need to rebook a flight on a good day you might not get a seat on another flight because they’re all full. Now compound that with what we’ve been through with the weather systems, and you might not get on for four to five days because all those other flights are full.”
Over the recent years, airlines have changed their policies toward weather related problems. Greenberg said that the airlines have been able to do preemptive cancellations ahead of the storms. Airliners will not just cancel one flight affected by the storm, but they will cancel the same flight throughout a four-day period due to planes getting out of sequence and flight crews getting out of schedule, according to Greenberg.
“If they can preemptive cancel a flight with a crew in place where the plane is originating, they have a much better chance getting a kickstart when the storm goes out,” said Greenberg.
According to Greenberg, Newark Liberty International Airport ranks high in airport delays and cancellations but that the problem is not just the volume of traffic but also the kind of traffic.
With the last winter storms, JetBlue decided to ground flights in the Northeast throughout the storm and pick up operations the following day. Greenberg said that JetBlue officials made a smart decision rather than trying to keep a schedule that they could not keep.
Greenberg said that this winter may be one of the worst in recent years.
“It’s one of the worst only because it’s happening more and more in a concentrated period of time,” said Greenberg.
Airlines that see losses from the winter storms may pass along the cost to travelers and increase airfares, according to Greenberg. And winter isn’t over yet.