Snowstorm was inconvenient, but financial impact could be muted

01/3/2011 | Reuters

Last week's East Coast snowstorm could cost airlines up to $150 million, according to one estimate, and a similar incident during a peak time for business travel could have even bigger repercussions. Experts say business travelers stranded by a severe storm would be more likely to cancel than holiday travelers, most of whom could simply reschedule their flights. Though the storm put a strain on airlines' resources, leaner operations are still seen as an overall plus. "Ultimately, the benefits from lower capacity are far, far more beneficial to the airlines than the impact of not being able to accommodate a few more passengers in a fluke event like this," says analyst Hunter Keay.

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