Airlines’ New York Schedules Boosted as LaGuardia Reopens

JFK Joins Newark Airport in Reopening as Sandy Disruptions Ease
Ticketing kiosks stand wrapped in plastic at LaGuardia Airport in New York. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

New York’s LaGuardia Airport started receiving flights today, completing the reopening of the region’s aviation hubs and boosting U.S. airlines in their effort to rebuild schedules after superstorm Sandy.

Arrivals resumed shortly after 7 a.m. local time, and both LaGuardia runways are open after floods receded, said Pasquale DiFulco of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Delta Air Lines Inc. began landing planes this morning, and AMR Corp.’s American Airlines is running a full schedule.

Resuming flights at LaGuardia restores an important link to the U.S. air-transport network, which lost an integral component Oct. 29 when Sandy forced all three major New York airports to close. The other two, John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty, are international gateways and they reopened yesterday.

“Just like it’s been a historic storm, it’s been a historic disruption,” Michael Derchin, an analyst with CRT Capital Group LLC, said in a telephone interview. “The pre-planning was outstanding. They’ve had some bad experiences previously, learning lessons from past problems. By early next week we should be pretty much fully recovered.”

Sandy-related losses may be $200 million to $250 million, Helane Becker, a Dahlman Rose & Co. analyst in New York, said in a Bloomberg Radio interview. That prospect didn’t weigh on the carriers’ shares, as the Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index of 10 carriers rose 1.6 percent for the biggest gain since Oct. 3.

Cancellations Tally

About 2,900 flights were canceled yesterday, or about one-tenth of the total U.S. schedule, according to industry researcher FlightAware. That bought the total to more than 19,820 since Oct. 28.

FlightStats has logged 873 flights grounded for today and 36 for tomorrow as airlines repair their schedules.

Delta started landing LaGuardia flights around 7 a.m. and expected to operate about half of its normal schedule of 268 flights, said Morgan Durrant, a spokesman.

“It’s going to be a little slow today as airlines position planes and crews,” DiFulco said of LaGuardia in a telephone interview. Flights there may not return to normal until late this weekend or early next week, he said.

Navigation Aids

Inclement weather might hamper LaGuardia’s flight-handling capacity in the short term. The Federal Aviation Administration reported damage to three of the four instrument-landing systems used to guide pilots during low visibility.

“FAA technicians from New England are assisting technicians in New York to help restore all damaged equipment as quickly as possible,” the agency said in a statement. So far, the weather has remained clear.

Southwest Airlines Co. planned to fly into LaGuardia by 1 p.m. New York time and resumed flights into Newark earlier today, said Paul Flaningan, a spokesman.

JetBlue Airways Corp. shifted its LaGuardia flights today to Kennedy airport, said Mateo Lleras, a spokesman. The New York-based carrier told customers to ignore cancellation notices for Nov. 1 departures from LaGuardia and to check the status of those flights online.

JetBlue will resume flights at Newark today and operate about half its usual schedule from Kennedy.

Those two airports will be “close to 100 percent” within the next day or two, DiFulco said.

United Continental Holdings Inc., Delta and American began some flying at both airports yesterday.

‘Full Schedule’

United is “getting close to resuming normal operations today at Newark,” a spokesman, Charles Hobart said by e-mail. The world’s biggest carrier expanded its travel waiver for passengers who were supposed to fly via Newark, Kennedy or LaGuardia to allow them to go into any of the 29 airports in the region, providing more options to complete their trips. Waivers usually don’t let customers switch airports.

Delta operated about half of its usual schedule yesterday at Kennedy and expected to have “near a full schedule” today, said Durrant, the spokesman for the Atlanta-based airline.

American made some flights into Kennedy last night and is now operating a full schedule at all three airports, said Andrea Huguely, a spokeswoman for the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier. The airline added one domestic and one international flight at Kennedy to assist customers affected by cancellations earlier this week.

US Airways Group Inc. expected to resume flights at both JFK and Newark this afternoon, said Todd Lehmacher, a spokesman. The airline plans to restart LaGuardia service tomorrow morning, although it’s hoping to complete an in-bound flight tonight from its hub at Charlotte, North Carolina, he said.

“Cleanup work continues and engineering inspections are still being conducted,” Lehmacher said.

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