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Hurricane Sandy’s Effect on Flights

Hurricane Sandy struck the eastern coast of the United States between October 28 and October 30, flooding streets and leaving thousands without power. Some of those who were hardest hit by the storm were businesses that were forced to close their doors for days and even weeks due to safety concerns and damages. This cost the companies valuable profits that they will have to struggle to make up once the wreckage is cleared.

The east coast airlines, like many of these other businesses, were forced to shut down to avoid catastrophe. As Hurricane Sandy was swelling into a Category 1 disaster in the Caribbean, airports across the eastern coast of the United States scrambled to get delays and cancellations underway. United Airlines, which usually runs several thousand flights a day, announced in a statement that the company lost around $90 million because of cancellations and delays caused by the super storm. The company’s base in New York is one of the largest in all of the world’s international airspace, flying regularly to Miami-Dade and Fort Lauderdale’s International Airports and other airports throughout Florida.

When the storm pushed north towards Florida, New Jersey, and New York, United Airlines cancelled over 5,000 flights in the interest of safety. Once the storm settled, the airline company reported a $35 million dent in October profits. Cancellations not only affected fliers in the east coast of the U.S., but all over the world. The airline says its overall air traffic went down by over 3% in October, largely due to the weather. According to United Airlines stock reportings, its shared decreased in value by 14 cents a few days after the storm. On Thursday, the stock was valued at $20.39, and is now being traded for an average of $20.

However, the news is not completely grim for United Airlines. The super storm forced the airline to pack more passengers on fewer planes to avoid further cancellations, which increased the company’s passenger profits by nearly 1% (though passengers likely did not enjoy this). The company may also have saved money by not using up valuable jet fuel during the storm. What is more, reports say many passengers will likely re-schedule their canceled or delayed flights, which may boost profits in the end.

Hurricane Sandy also affected Delta Air Lines, sources indicate. The airline released a statement following the storm saying it lost an estimated $45 million in revenue and another $20 million in profits during the stormy weather. Delta is based in Georgia and conducts regular flights to and from Florida.

Airlines were not the only businesses affect by the storm. Macy’s, a retail chain located throughout the United States, expressed worries following the storm that their fourth quarter reports may fall below average. The holiday spending season is right around the corner, but the company is now afraid that possible customers may spend their money on relief supplies and renovations rather than retail goods. To combat this issue, the retail chain issued a statement saying it plans to extend sales to the areas hardest hit by the super storm.

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