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Airlines could lose $200 million due to the blizzard -- but they won't feel the pain

Winter storm Jonas all but shut down air travel for much of the eastern United States over the weekend.

The blizzard, which left much of the region paralysed under as much as 30 inches of snow, has caused more than 12,000 flights to be canceled.

The seven major airports serving New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, were closed for most of the weekend, leaving the normally bustling airspace all but deserted.

The airline industry could lose an estimated $200 million in revenue as a result of the blizzard, Airways News senior business analyst Vinay Bhaskara told Business Insider.

That comes in the form of canceled flights, forfeited fees, and lost business due to alternative modes of transit.

However, with the airlines reporting record levels of profitability, it is unlikely last weekend’s blizzard will have a significant effect on the industry’s bottom line.

“No, no, no,” Bhaskara said when asked whether the blizzard will result in any long-term financial impact on airlines.

The airline industry generates more than $170 billion in revenue every year, so a $200-million loss will not make a significant dent in the overall business.

But the lost revenue will likely show up in airlines’ first-quarter earnings results and could cause less sophisticated investors who do not following the industry to make a rash decision, Bhaskara cautioned.

Although the vast majority of investors will not make much of the losses, he added.

Thus far, the market has reacted in subdued fashion to the blizzard. Delta and United shares are flat in trading on Monday, while shares of American and Southwest are down slightly.

The blizzard caused by winter storm Jonas fell during the period when airlines are reporting their 2015 annual and 2015 fourth quarter earnings. Thus far, major US carriers such as United, Delta, and Southwest have all reported stellar profits driven by cheap fuel and increased business discipline.

American Airlines is set report 2015 earnings this week.

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