Airlines canceled Feb. flights to avoid delays

There were no U.S. planes stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours in February despite massive winter storms across much of the country, the government said Tuesday. But cancellations soared, reaching the second highest for any February on record.

U.S. airlines had a cancellation rate of 4.87 percent in February. That’s the eighth highest for any month.

Airlines have shown a willingness to cancel flights to avoid potentially huge fines for long waits on the tarmac. That intensified this winter. Canceling a flight reduces costs. Many passengers still fly on a later flight, so the airline doesn’t lose the fare.

Overall U.S. airlines were on time less often during February than in both the month and the year before.

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