High winds mean more pit stops in Canada

Unusually strong winds have been forcing dozens of smaller Continental Airlines flights from Europe...

Unusually strong winds have been forcing dozens of smaller Continental Airlines flights from Europe to the eastern U.S. to stop over in Canada to refuel. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

Unusually strong winds have been forcing dozens of smaller Continental Airlines flights from Europe to the eastern U.S. to stop over in Canada to refuel, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Thousands of passengers have been delayed as non-stop flights layover at airports in Gander and Goose Bay, N.L., the primary places to top off the tanks.

Other 757 jets have diverted to Nova Scotia, Iceland, Ireland, and New York.

The reasons for the increase in stops is two-fold: Trade winds over the Atlantic Ocean are the highest they've been in more than 10 years. Also, Continental Airlines has turned to smaller jets for flights with less traffic to save costs on fuel and crew members. When winds increase, the 757s are pushed to the limit of their roughly 4,000-nautical-mile range as they have to increase the amount of fuel the planes' twin engines burn.

That leaves "little room for error," the WSJ reports.

The airline said that last month alone 757s had to stop 43 times out of 1,100 flights headed to the U.S. to refuel. There were only 12 unscheduled stops on roughly the same volume of flights the same time last year.


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