Study: Winter flight delays cost economy $5.8 billion

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Weather-related flight delays and cancellations cost airlines and airports $5.8 billion, according to a study released on Monday.

The study, conducted by aviation data analytics firm masFlight, found that one million flights were cancelled or delayed between Dec. 1, 2013 and Feb. 28, 2014.

The result of the cancellations and delays was $5.3 billion in lost passenger activity, $500 million in higher operating costs for airlines and $4.5 million in fewer passenger revenue for airports.

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The figures were higher than the recent winter average of $3.3 billion in impact from weather-related delays, according to the study.

MasFlight Vice President Tulinda Larsen new regulations regarding issues like pilot scheduling and the amount of time airlines can keep passengers on board airplanes without taking off may have played a role in the increased economic impact of the winter weather this year.

“The airlines’ top priority is to get passengers to their destinations safely and on time, but this season’s winter weather coupled with new government regulations forced airlines to cancel and delay a record number of flights,” Larsen said in a statement. “The impact on passengers, airlines, airports and the economy reflects the fragility of the air traffic control system and the unintended consequences of new regulations.”

The full study can be read here.