According to the Wall Street Journal, in recent weeks dozens of Continental Airlines flights to Europe that were to have been non-stops had to make stops in Canada because strong winds left them short on fuel.
United/Continental Tries Smaller Jets to Europe
This is the result of a seemingly dicey business decision on the part of United/Continental (the two airlines are finalizing their merger) to use smaller jets such as Boeing 757s on trans-Atlantic routes.
On paper, such a decision sounds like a good one since smaller aircraft are less expensive to operate and require fewer cabin crew members and all works fine when the weather co-operates.
Bad Weather Burns More Fuel
However, when weather does no co-operate, planes can burn more fuel requiring stops to add more meaning flyers miss connections, passengers may have to be put up in hotels and sometimes compensation is provided. And weather, as everyone knows, can be fickle.
According to the story, there have been unusually strong head winds over the Atlantic this year and United said, “its 169-seat 757s had to stop 43 times to refuel out of nearly 1,100 flights headed to the U.S.” Contrast this with just 12 such stops required last year.
Comment of the Day
A comment from a reader suggested the latest round of weather is no surprise: “Headwinds from New Hampshire Primary speeches certainly to blame.”