Flight cancellations are affecting mail, cargo deliveries and other important parts of the U.S. economy. Air Transport Association Vice President Basil Barimo said the airlines are "the backbone of the travel and tourism industry." Carriers link the U.S. with the rest of the world, carry more than 2.1 million people on a typical day and employ more than 500,000 workers, Barimo said. He testified before the Senate Commerce subcommittee on aviation safety on Thursday.

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