Two metropolitan New York airports,
John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty, opened for some flights
today as Atlantic superstorm Sandy’s disruption of the busiest
U.S. aviation market starts to ease.
New York’s LaGuardia remains closed while damage
assessments continue, said Ron Marsico, a spokesman for the Port
Authority of New York New Jersey. A JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU)
plane landed at Kennedy from Long Beach, California, at 7:04
a.m., and a FedEx Corp. (FDX) jet arrived at 7:12 a.m. at Newark.
“It is still limited service,” Marsico said in a
telephone interview. “We might be talking in the hundreds of
New York’s airports closed late on Oct. 29 and have lagged
behind the recovery of East Coast peers as carriers rebuild
schedules in cities such as Boston, Philadelphia and Washington.
LaGuardia and Newark each had more than 1,200 flights canceled
yesterday, the most in the nation, industry researcher
“Damage from the storm has been extensive,” United
Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL) Chief Executive Officer Jeff Smisek
told employees in a letter yesterday. “The runways at LaGuardia
have been flooded, and there has been some facility damage at
Newark that we are currently assessing.”
Airlines pulled planes out of the region on Oct. 28 as
then-Hurricane Sandy barreled toward landfall, and the Port
Authority announced the closing of the three airports late the
following day. New Jersey’s Teterboro airport also remained
closed early today, Marsico said.
Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) expects some flights today at Kennedy,
said Morgan Durrant, a spokesman for the Atlanta-based airline.
A Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) spokeswoman, Olga Romero, said the
Dallas-based carrier may be flying at LaGuardia after 1 p.m. New
AMR Corp. (AAMRQ)’s American Airlines and Tempe, Arizona-based US
Airways Group Inc. (LCC) are working toward tomorrow in New York.
Andrea Huguely, a spokeswoman for Fort Worth, Texas-based
American, said “substantial flooding” occurred at all three
“US Airways operations at LaGuardia, JFK and Newark will
remain idle until at least noon on Thursday,” Chief Operating
Officer Robert Isom said yesterday in a message to employees.
“LaGuardia, in particular, was hard hit with several feet of
standing water currently on runways and ramp areas.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters that he
didn’t expect LaGuardia to open today.
Counting scrapped trips since Oct. 28, the cancellations
tally attributable to Sandy exceeded 18,100, FlightAware said
yesterday. Chicago’s O’Hare airport scrubbed almost 500 East
Coast arrivals and departures yesterday, the city’s aviation
CEO Rick Seaney of travel website FareCompare estimated
that about 1.5 million airline passengers had travel plans
interrupted by Sandy in the two days through yesterday. Some
cancellations will persist as airlines reposition planes and
people after the “freak storm,” he said.
“We might have a lingering effect, but it should be good
to go for road warriors on Monday,” he said.
With New York’s airports not operating at normal levels,
disruptions would continue to ripple outward. Together, they
handle more passengers in a year than Atlanta’s Hartsfield, the
busiest U.S. facility. Kennedy is an international base for
Delta and American, as well as alliance partners such as Air
France-KLM (AF) Group and British Airways (IAG), respectively. LaGuardia’s
flights are mostly domestic.
Sandy’s wrath was felt in floods spilling across New York’s
waterfront tarmacs, United’s loss of electricity at Newark
yesterday and even the continuing subway shutdown, robbing
airlines of the airport workers needed to return operations to
Photos posted on JetBlue’s blog and Twitter account showed
LaGuardia aprons and taxiways awash, with water lapping at the
wheels of a jet bridge in one image.
“It’s not super high … but certainly deep enough to
cause major disruptions to our operation,” JetBlue said in a
message posted in response to a Twitter follower who inquired
about the picture. LaGuardia is a secondary airport for JetBlue,
whose main base is Kennedy.
Airport officials will have to inspect runways for damage
and debris and ensure that lighting and other equipment is
working before operations can resume, said Debbie McElroy, a
spokeswoman for the Washington-based Airports Council
International-North America trade group.
The Federal Aviation Administration is responsible for gear
such as radars and radios, and it is “conducting a damage
assessment to quickly repair or re-establish any damaged air
traffic facilities or critical navigational aids,” according to
an e-mailed statement.
Bounded on two sides by the waters of Flushing Bay,
LaGuardia is as low as 6.7 feet (2 meters) above sea level at
its southeast corner, according to AirNav.com, an aviation-data
A 2010 report from the New York State Department of
Environmental Conservation on rising sea levels identified the
airport as a flooding risk.
“A ten-foot storm surge, similar to that of Hurricane
Donna in 1960, would begin to overtop its protective barriers,”
according to the report. Flood damage wouldn’t be uniform,
according to the report, saying “a more detailed study is
needed to evaluate which areas would be most vulnerable.”
Air-freight operations slowed on the East Coast along with
passenger flights. United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) planned to open
its airport gateways in the region late yesterday, with the
exception of Newark and Kennedy, said Susan Rosenberg, a
spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based company.
UPS’s ground operations will be running in New York City,
New York’s Long Island and Connecticut, she said. Delays will
linger in parts of New Jersey, where downed trees and power
lines make deliveries difficult, as well as in snow-covered West
Virginia, Rosenberg said in a telephone interview.
“In most areas, we’re going to be at near normal
operations,” Leordeanu said by telephone. “But we will still
have localized delays based on both safety and accessibility.”
To contact the reporters on this story:
Mary Schlangenstein in Dallas at
Mary Jane Credeur in Atlanta at
Victoria Stilwell in New York at
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Ed Dufner at
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