With 119 delays or about 3% of its scheduled flights, Southwest Airlines had the most flights delayed early on Thursday. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines both experienced 1% flight delays compared to United Airlines' 2% and 1%, respectively.
In contrast, 53% of Southwest flights, 58% of United routes, 57% of American's schedule, and 43% of Delta's operations were delayed on Wednesday. On the same day, there were delays on almost 10,600 flights within, into, and out of the United States.
As the outage turned out to be quite brief, airline stocks that had been pointing lower throughout the problem gained ground and ended the day mainly higher.
Following a failure of its NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) system on Wednesday morning, the FAA ordered airlines to halt all domestic flights for a while. The device notifies pilots in real time of any potential risks along their flight path.
Although the agency stated its first analysis revealed the outage was brought on by a broken database file, a comprehensive investigation is still being conducted.
"At this point, there is no proof of a cyberattack."
Normal operations started to resume at 9 a.m. EST, although carriers struggled all day to clear the backlog, resulting in delays and cancellations.
American Airlines canceled 228 flights, or 7% of its schedule, while Southwest canceled 429 flights or 10% of its program. Compared to Delta Air Lines, which canceled 58 flights, United Airlines had 96 cancellations, or 4% fewer flights.
It serves as a reminder that recent travel interruptions will be taken into account when analyzing fourth-quarter performance as the airline earnings season is set to begin.
The inconvenience brought on by the FAA outage was nothing compared to what travelers went through over the holiday season after a severe winter storm forced thousands of flights to be canceled.
Southwest Airlines, which canceled more than 16,700 flights between December 21st and December 31st, was by far the worst hit. Due to these cancellations, the airline anticipates reporting a net loss in the fourth quarter. The carrier calculated that the turmoil would cost them $725 to $825 million, including $400 to $425 million in missed revenue.
The effect should be considerably less severe for other carriers. Investors will, as is customary, be paying close attention to airline forward guidance, especially for hints as to whether demand is holding steady or weakening.
All airlines experienced a stressful conclusion to the fourth quarter. However, here's what Cowen analysts led by Helane Becker said about it as well:
"They don't anticipate this frustration to affect customer travel intentions in 2023."The first indication of whether or not that is the case will be provided by Delta Air Lines' earnings, which are expected on Friday. Investors will certainly be interested in any indication of demand in the coming months.
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