Minor air traffic delays add up to big costs | Science News

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Minor air traffic delays add up to big costs

On average, economic impact exceeds that of hurricanes

By
5:27pm, January 20, 2010

ATLANTA — Air traffic delays are more than just annoying: On average, they probably cost the U.S. economy more than hurricanes do.

Most media reports focus on extended delays that leave passengers stranded in airports for days or trapped on the tarmac for hours, said Bob Maxson, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, Mo. But the vast majority of delays are relatively minor and stem from localized weather events such as heavy rain, limited visibility or strong crosswinds, he reported January 19 at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society. These small delays nevertheless add up to big costs, he notes.

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