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US aviation sector crumbles: Southwest Airlines cancels more flights amid winter storm, New Year holidays

Amid the winter storm, the hardest hit air carrier in the United States was Southwest Airlines with about 2,500 cancellations, while Delta Air Lines had over 250 cancellations.

US aviation sector crumbles: Southwest Airlines cancels more flights amid winter storm, New Year holidays Image for representation

The aviation industry of the United States seems to be crumbling amidst severe load due to the ongoing festive season and winter storm, all hitting the US soil at the same time. Thousands of flight cancellations and delays coupled with long lines and missing luggage at airports frustrated the U.S. travellers over the Christmas weekend and upcoming New Year 2022. After a massive winter storm snarled airport operations around the country, many airlines cancelled their flights. More than 2,700 flights within, into or out of the US have already been cancelled for Tuesday as of 1:40 a.m. ET, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.

The hardest hit was Southwest Airlines with about 2,471 cancellations while Delta Air Lines had around 250 cancellations. On December 26, the travel disruptions continued when airlines cancelled over 2,500 flights as of early afternoon, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.

At Chicago's Midway Airport, traveller Anna Kang was stranded for more than a day as she attempted to fly out to San Diego, California. "Two flights got cancelled. I waited in line for about an hour and a half to book another flight at the other airport. So I went from O'Hare to Midway, stayed in line, that got delayed, got cancelled. We found that out at about 1 'o'clock this morning, so I've been up all night since yesterday," Kang said.

Frustrated passengers like Austin-bound Menda Speckels were forced to find alternatives after their flights were cancelled. "So now we're driving back to Austin. 17 hours. I was able to find a rental car. There was not many, but I was able to find one. So we're going to start back here in a minute," Speckels said.

Similar scenes were seen in airports across the United States, as travellers waited in long lines to find alternate routes to get to their destination. In Colorado, a large pile of baggage lay unclaimed near the Southwest Airlines Carousel at Denver's International Airport.

The massive winter storm wreaking havoc on travel has been blamed for at least 55 deaths in the United States since late last week, according to an NBC News tally. 

With Reuters inputs