BUSINESS: Cirium Names December The Busiest Month Of Air Travel In 2021; More Than 59,000 Flights Are Cancelled Near Year End, The Most In A Decade

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by Daniel Webster, dWeb.News Publisher

LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Aviation analytics firm Cirium, reveals that December was the busiest month in 2021 for flights globally, totaling 2. 43 million, however the total number of flights canceled globally between December 24, 2021, and January 3, 2022, was 59,240, some 2.4%.

The number of cancelations over this period is the most cancelations in December for the past decade, six times more than the cancelations in 2019 and two and half times more than 2020. A total of 20,500 flights were canceled in the first three days of the new year.

The big four US airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, canceled nearly 7,040 flights over this period.

The cancelations being driven by the surging cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and other operational challenges (including winter weather). Due to shortages of crew and ground personnel, airlines quickly canceled flights.

Pre-Omicron, global flights flown increased 1.5% week-over-week (December 11-17, 2021). Global flights have fallen 5% since the Omicron impact.

There are large variances between the regions, with the US, Europe and North Atlantic down 9-10%, China up 6%, while Asia-Pacific and Middle East are flat. Flight disruptions can affect airports and airlines in different ways. It depends on how flexible and available resources and equipment are to respond quickly. Operational disruptions can be minimized if they are planned more conservatively. Cirium’s CEO, Jeremy Bowen, said that Cirium measures the disruption level by measuring completion factors of flights and on-time performance. “Cirium’s recent On-Time performance Review shows how airlines have concentrated on their operations in order to minimize the impact on passengers. For example, Delta Air Lines completed 99.8% of their flights from June to December 2021 and All Nippon Airways, the winner of the Global airline category in Cirium’s Review had a completion factor of 99.2%.”

Consideration is given to the carriers with high volumes of flights. For example, American Airlines flew the most flights in 2021 – around 1,850,050 – and still, its flights arrived 80. 47% on time. The carrier did have trouble reinstating flight volumes after more than a year of deeply depressed demand yet completed 97.5% of its flights.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), the major hub for Delta Air Lines, was the busiest airport based on departing flights with 336,890 this year. Despite handling the most flights, it ranked 15th in on-time performance of the Top 20 Global airports.

Amsterdam Airport (AMS) was the busiest airport for international flights in 2021, with a total of 123,070 departing flights, however, it didn’t make the Top 20 airport rankings for on-time performance. This year, airports experienced many variables in the deployment of comprehensive pandemic protocols and optimizing the reconciliation, collection, and staffing.

Cirium’s On-Time Performance Review sets the industry standard for airports and airlines operational performance. Cirium resumed reporting in June 2021, as flight volumes returned, with regular monthly updates that help gauge the industry’s performance in getting passengers from point A to point B, on time. Cirium’s on-time performance analysis is based on flight data from over 600 sources of real-time flight information.

Click here to download the complimentary On-Time Performance Review 2021.

About Cirium

Cirium brings together powerful data and analytics to keep the world moving. With decades of industry experience, Cirium provides insights that enable travel companies, airline operators, airports, and financial institutions to make informed decisions and shape the future of aviation, increasing revenues, and improving customer experiences. RELX is a global provider for information-based analytics, decision tools and other services to professional and business customers. Cirium is part RELX. RELX PLC shares are listed on the London, Amsterdam, and New York Stock Exchanges under the following ticker symbols. London: REL; Amsterdam REN; New York ELX.

For further information please follow Cirium updates on LinkedIn or Twitter or visit

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