By Ramishah Maruf, CNN Business
Airlines have so far canceled 2,800 flights Sunday as a powerful winter storm packing rain, sleet and snow is poised to hit the East Coast on the holiday weekend.
Almost 95% of the flights out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, an American Airlines hub, are canceled, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. The carrier preemptively canceled 1,100 flights Sunday across its mainline and regional operations after canceling 90 Saturday.
“This weekend’s winter storm is expected to have a significant impact on our operation, especially at Charlotte International Airport (CLT),” American said in a statement.
The airline also issued a travel notice allowing customers affected by the weather to rebook flights without a fee.
Nearly 74 million people were under winter weather alerts Saturday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
The massive storm system is approaching the eastern United States from the Midwest and is expected to form crippling ice in parts of Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas Sunday. The governors of those states have declared emergencies.
“This is by far going to be the biggest issue we encounter over the next 48 hours: ice, and a lot of it,” CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar said Saturday morning.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 17, is a federal holiday, with many schools and offices closed.
American isn’t the only carrier canceling flights. As of 11 AM EST Sunday, Southwest canceled 309 flights, or 9% of its operation according to FlightAware, while Delta Air Lines canceled 231 flights, or 10% of its operation.
Other airports in the Southeast also face significant cancellations on Sunday. Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina has canceled 90 flights, 60%of its trips for the day. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has canceled 27%, or 220, of its flights Sunday. Reagan National near Washington, D.C. has canceled a third of its Sunday flights.
Saturday saw more than 450 cancellations and 2,000 delays in the United States as the storm moved to the South.
It’s been a miserable few weeks to be an airline traveler. Winter weather and Omicron surges left 20,000 US flights canceled over the busy holiday travel season. As travel picked up, staffing cuts also left airlines with fewer employees than they had before the pandemic.
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CNN’s Jason Hanna, Hannah Gard, Alanne Orjoux and Chris Isidore contributed to this report.