Snowstorm forces US airline Delta to cancels hundreds of flights

A Delta Airlines jet taking off from Washington National Airport in August 2017.
A Delta Airlines jet taking off from Washington National Airport in August 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A rare early winter snowstorm hitting the south-east United States forced Delta Air Lines on Friday (Dec 8) to cancel hundreds of flights just two weeks before Christmas.

The move could have a domino effect since the storm is hitting Delta's largest hub, in Atlanta.

The carrier said it cancelled 375 flights as of midday, and encouraged travellers to change travel plans - without incurring a change fee - if they were booked on flights through Atlanta over the weekend.

Forecasters issued a rare winter weather warning for the southern United States, with snow hitting places that rarely see it. While Atlanta is only expected to get one to two inches of snow, that is enough to cause dangerous driving conditions.

"Delta will maintain a delayed operation to ensure flights are properly de-iced and continuously moving," the company said in a statement.

The airline cautioned that it may "add cancellations or further delays as needed," depending on how the storm develops.

Customers will be allowed to request a refund for cancelled flights.