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Winter weather affects thousands of flights nationwide over New Year's weekend. (Austonia)

Just as Austinites switch gears into the new year, dozens of flight cancellations and delays hit Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Monday amid winter storms and a COVID spike that left many stuck at home.

Austin saw 39 flight cancellations and 84 delays coming to and from the airport as of 1:30 p.m. Monday, accounting for 23% of all flights. Nearly 50 of those flights came from Southwest Airlines, which saw 12% of its flights canceled and 17% delayed in the same time frame. While no American Airlines flights were canceled, 24 flights—or 23%—were delayed Monday morning.

The cancellations reflect a nationwide trend: over 3,800 flights were canceled in the U.S. by 1:30 p.m., while nearly 10,000 were delayed, according to FlightAware. According to ABIA's public information office, airlines have shared that the bulk of Monday's cancellations are due to winter weather, especially as areas of the Midwest saw their strongest snowstorm of the season over the weekend.

"Inclement weather at other airports across the country, such as snow from the southern Appalachian and Mid-Atlantic states, have impacted flights at AUS," the airport said in an official statement. "Passengers should check their flight’s status for delays or cancelations prior to arriving at the airport."

Monday's troubles are the latest bout of cancellations after a year of unprecedented delays, demands and obstacles for the troubled airline industry amid the pandemic. In October, ACL attendees and other travelers were left stranded in the Texas capitol and airports across the U.S. as Southwest Airlines canceled over 60% of its planned flights on one day alone, while American Airlines saw a Halloween shutdown as they canceled 32% of local Austin flights due to weather and staffing concerns.

Hundreds to thousands of flights have been canceled daily for weeks as COVID cases reached a new peak mid-holiday season. Winter weather—Austin's temperatures abruptly dropped from a balmy near-80 degrees to sub-30 degree temperatures Saturday— paired with a staffing shortage due to COVID caused over 5,000 U.S. flight cancellations over New Year's weekend, according to national airlines.

While airlines have been suffering with staffing shortages since just before Christmas, they saw triumph as the CDC shortened COVID quarantine recommendations from 10 to 5 days on Monday, Dec. 27. The industry had lobbied for the new recommendations, which don't require a negative test to return to work and now require a 5-day isolation period and 5 extra days of masking, citing personnel shortages.


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