Airports Resume Service In Northeast, But Backups Could Persist For Days


Airlines haltingly began to resume some flights on Sunday in the northeastern United States after the destruction left by Hurricane Irene, but travelers still faced widespread cancellations into Monday and backups well into next week.

Almost all flights were canceled in Philadelphia and Boston on Sunday, while the three big airports in the New York area — Kennedy, Newark and La Guardia — remained closed and looked unlikely to reopen until sometime Monday, pending inspections of the airport facilities and the resumption of bus and train service.

In Washington, both Dulles International and Reagan National reopened with no major damage reported from the storm, and flights began leaving early Sunday, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said.

“There are still many cancellations and delays especially on flights to other airports in the Northeast,” said Courtney Mickalonis, a spokeswoman for the authority. “It is going to continue for another day or two. We recommend that people check with their airlines. Some flights are going but a lot are not.”

The Baltimore Washington International airport said flights were expected to slowly resume on Sunday, but more delays and cancellations were expected.

The Philadelphia International Airport said it was reopening at 4 p.m. Sunday. But, it said, no airlines had departures scheduled for Sunday.

In Boston, there were “numerous cancellations on Sunday; normal operations are expected to resume Monday midday,” the airport authority said in a statement.

Phil Orlandella, a spokesman, said Logan airport in Boston had remained open over the weekend but almost all flights had been canceled. He said that airlines would resume flights sporadically on Monday but that first “they have to get their airplanes in here.”

United and Continental had canceled 2,300 flights on Saturday and Sunday and said they did not expect to resume flights from the New York airports before noon Monday “with the time depending on facility conditions and access.”

As a sign that the problems would stretch into the week, further flights would inevitably be canceled Monday, they said.

In the wake of the problems, they and other airlines like JetBlue were waiving change fees for customers with flights in the affected areas. JetBlue, which canceled 1,252 flights over the weekend and on Monday, said it might be operating some flights by Monday afternoon.

American Airlines said it had canceled 1,161 flights over the weekend, mainly in the New York and Washington areas, and had already canceled 89 more so far for Monday. American said it had resumed flights from Washington on Sunday at 9 a.m.

Delta, which canceled about 1,100, or 20 percent, of its flights Sunday, said it would probably resume operations at New York airports and other locations by late Monday afternoon. The big international airlines were also caught up in the disruptions. Air France, for example, canceled flights out of Boston over the weekend and rebooked passengers on flights leaving only at the end of this coming week. Lufthansa said it had canceled 21 flights in and out of Boston, New York and Philadelphia, and hoped gradually to resume flights Monday. The airlines are now rescheduling flights and rebooking passengers, and logistically spent the weekend moving aircraft and crew they had moved out of harm’s way back into airports in the Northeast.

According to Steve Lott, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, an industry trade group, another issue was whether local airport employees could get to work without mass transit.

“The Washington area is coming back on line today. By tonight or tomorrow morning, we should be close to normal there,” Mr. Lott said.

(Source: NY Times)