Airlines Try to Get Back on Track After Storm Cancellations

  • Cancellations spill into Monday as Northeast hubs dig out
  • `Limited service' seen in New York, Washington on Sunday

Airlines paralyzed by the epic winter storm in the U.S. Northeast began to rebuild their schedules even as they pre-emptively scrapped some Monday flights, pushing the tally of cancellations toward 12,000 over a four-day period.

“We are not currently seeing any airline flights arrive or depart from the major New York or Washington, D.C., airports, although limited service is expected to begin today,” data tracker FlightAware.com said Sunday in an e-mailed statement.

New York’s LaGuardia Airport had almost 700 flights wiped out Sunday, more than 70 percent of the planned total, according to FlightAware. New York’s other two major airports, John F. Kennedy International and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International, each had about half their usual complement of takeoffs and landings erased as of 9:15 a.m.

Monday Cancellations

FlightAware logged more than 630 Monday cancellations, with United Airlines’ hub at Dulles International Airport outside Washington airport accounting for roughly a third of the total. United had scrubbed flights for as late as 10:15 p.m. Monday, “clearly indicating that airlines will not be fully operational until Tuesday at the earliest,” FlightAware said.

New York is the busiest U.S. travel market, with hubs for American Airlines Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and United, the world’s three largest carriers by traffic. JetBlue Airways Corp. has its biggest base at Kennedy airport, which is also a gateway for many foreign carriers serving the U.S.

Dropping the flights early helps airlines reposition planes and people away from the path of foul weather. In the case of the weekend blizzard on the U.S. East Coast, that kept aircraft off tarmacs blanketed with historic snowfall totals, including more than two feet of snow in some regions.

That left carriers waiting on basics such as getting local employees to Northeast airports via roads and public transportation systems that are slowly digging out. Highways and streets around New York City weren’t opened until 7 a.m. Sunday following an emergency declaration during the storm, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority modified subway and bus service. Washington’s public transport is closed until Monday.

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