Hurricanes a recurring ill-wind for airlines.

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October 12, 2018
Hurricanes airlines profits
Hurricane Michael from space. Photo; NASA

Hurricanes are becoming a recurring expense for US carriers with Florence already costing airlines tens of millions of dollars this year and Michael set to add to the burden.

Hundreds of flights have again been canceled as the monster storm,  one of the strongest Hurricanes to hit the US, crossed the coast at the Florida Panhandle and made its way through several South-East states.

While Michael may not have had the impact as some previous storms, cancellations are still being felt by travelers in many airports.

American Airlines revealed this week that Hurricane Florence cut its pre-tax profit by $US50 million and Delta Air Lines said the impact on its bottom line had been $US30 million.

American cancelled about 2100 flights in the Carolinas and neighbouring states during Florence, cutting revenues by $US55 million. This was offset by a $US5 million reduction in costs due to not operating the cancelled flights.

READ: US Passengers prepare for another hurricane drama

This year’s losses come after a  $US75m reduction in pre-tax earnings at American, and $US120m, at Delta in the wake of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Michael caught authorities by surprise as it quickly intensified to become a hurricane.

By the time it crossed the coast, it was a Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph (250kmh) winds and a 9ft (2.75m) storm surge.

It has been blamed for at least six deaths and left some communities looking like bomb sites.

More than 900,000 homes and businesses were without electricity by Thursday evening local time.

It is unclear how many flights have been canceled systemwide but American said Tuesday it planned to cancel more than 550 over three days.

Major airlines introduced fee waivers prior to the storm’s arrival, allowing people to change bookings without penalty.

A National Hurricane Center advisory issued Thursday night said winds had dropped to 50mph as the downgraded storm moved over Virginia and out into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Washington Post reported that Michael was the most intense storm on record to strike the Florida Panhandle.