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Airlines canceled 5,700 US flights amid brutal winter storms

Airlines canceled 5,700 US flights amid brutal winter storms

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WASHINGTON, Dec 23 (Reuters) – Canceled airlines topped 5,700 U.S. flights on Friday as a massive winter storms snarled airport operations in the United States and frustrated tens of thousands of vacationers.

That followed nearly 2,700 canceled flights on Thursday, while just over 1,000 flights have already been canceled for Saturday, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.

Amtrak passenger rail canceled dozens of trains over Christmas, disrupting holiday travel for thousands.

Highways in the Midwest faced long delays due to snowy weather or crashes, and authorities in parts of Indiana, Michigan, New York and Ohio urged drivers to avoid non-essential travel.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has imposed ground shutdowns or de-icing delays at a number of US airports due to the winter weather.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN that the U.S. aviation system is “operating under tremendous strain” with two separate storms and strong winds affecting airports across the country. About 10 percent of U.S. flights were canceled Thursday, Buttigieg said.

Another 10,400 US flights were delayed on Friday – including more than 40% of those operated by American Airlines (AAL.O)United Airlines (UAL.O)Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) – after 11,300 flights were delayed on Thursday.

Southwest canceled 1,238 flights on Friday, 29% of all scheduled flights, while Alaska Airlines (ALK.N) canceled 507 or 64% of its flights.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport had 357 flights, or 63 percent of departures, canceled Friday. The FAA canceled the ground shutdown there because of snow and ice, but late Friday delays averaged nearly three hours.

Nearly half of departing flights in metro Detroit were canceled, along with 70% in Portland, 38% in New York’s LaGuardia, 29% in Chicago O’Hare and 27% in Boston.

Chicago faced dangerously cold temperatures with wind chills reaching minus 24 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 31 degrees Celsius).

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Josie Cao, Jonathan Oatis, Sandra Mahler and Edmund Claman

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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