Dozens of Detroit Metro flights delayed, canceled amid national wave of disruptions

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Romulus — About 20% of the flights into and out of Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport Saturday were canceled as part of a nationwide wave of flight disruptions, according to tracking service FlightAware.

By noon Saturday, according to the service, 66 flights out of Metro Airport, about 20% of the total flights were canceled, while 19 outgoing flights, or about 5%, were delayed. Of the incoming flights into Metro Airport, 58, or 18% were canceled, while 24, or 7% were delayed.

Wayne County Airport Authority spokeswoman Erica Donerson said several factors could be driving the problems.

"We experience cancellations and delays for a variety of reasons," she said in an email. "This time of year, the reason could be COVID-related, weather or other issues ... as always, we encourage customers to check their flight status prior to heading to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport."

The local delays are part of a nationwide flurry of delays and cancellations. By midmorning Saturday on the East Coast, more than 2,300 U.S. flights had been canceled, according to FlightAware.

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Saturday's cancellations marked the highest single-day toll yet since airlines began blaming staffing shortages on increasing COVID-19 infections among crews before Christmas.

Saturday’s disruptions weren’t just due to the virus, however. Wintry weather made Chicago the worst place in the country for travelers, with 800 flights scrubbed at O’Hare Airport and more than 250 at Midway Airport.

Southwest had canceled more than 450 flights, or 13% of its schedule. SkyWest, which operates flights as American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express, grounded more than 400 flights, or 21% of its schedule.

American, Delta, United and JetBlue all scrubbed more than 100 flights each.

Travelers who stuck to the roads instead of the skies faced challenges, too. Transportation officials in the Midwest warned motorists that a mix of rain and snow could make roads slippery and reduce visibility, leading to hazardous driving conditions.

Associated Press contributed.