March 8, 2021

Airlines Resume Service, but Snarls Remain

Under clear skies, airlines that serve the New York City area and other Northeastern cities started to return their planes to service on Monday, but many warned that travelers whose plans were thrown into disarray by Hurricane Irene could still face scheduling problems and delays through the week.

Cancellations continued on Monday as airlines and airports in what is a major regional hub for national and international flights grappled with logistical problems. Airlines had relocated planes out of the area before the hurricane hit over the weekend, and are now struggling to get employees, including flight crews and terminal workers, back into position because of difficulties in commuting.

The resumption of some airline operations was in line with the partial return of other transportation systems, which were shut down throughout the New York area and in parts of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia and other urban areas because of the hurricane. Service on subways, trains and buses started to resume as millions of people returned to work on Monday morning.

Many flights were already fully booked in the week leading up to the Labor Day weekend, a period of heavy travel. So passengers who are trying to get alternate flights are trying to rebook in a packed system.

Over the weekend, almost all flights were canceled in Philadelphia and Boston, and the three big airports in the New York area were closed. In Washington, flights began leaving Sunday at both Dulles International and Reagan National, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said.

While more than 1,800 flights were canceled on Monday at airports in the New York City area, Boston and Philadelphia, most airlines reported they were operating again.

United and Continental said that they resumed flights starting at noon Eastern time on Monday at Newark Liberty International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and La Guardia Airport. The airline said in a statement it would also resume service at several other airports along the East Coast, including White Plains; Albany; Boston; Hartford; Providence, R.I.; Portland, Maine; and Manchester, N.H.

United and Continental had canceled 2,265 flights on Saturday and Sunday, and another 437 flights on Monday, the statement said.

“The aftermath of Hurricane Irene may force some additional delays and cancellations of scheduled flights to the region on Monday,” the statement said.

As of noon on Monday, the company had resumed its operations, with the exception of the 437 previously canceled flights out of its average 5,765 flights throughout the system. “That plan is being executed and things are going as planned,” said a spokesman, Michael Trevino.

A JetBlue airlines communications manager, Mateo Lleras, said that the airline, which had canceled 1,252 flights Saturday through Monday, would operate 432 flights on Monday afternoon and expected to resume full operations sometime this week at Newark, La Guardia, Kennedy and at two other airports, one in White Plains and the other, Stewart International Airport, in Newburgh, N.Y.

Big international airlines also scrambled to catch up.

Lufthansa had canceled 18 round-trip flights in and out of Boston, New York and Philadelphia, and said Monday that it had resumed its full schedule. The airline flies through those airports to Munich, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf in Germany.

The effects of the hurricane seeped into operations throughout the United States.

After dealing with 131 flight cancellations over the weekend due to Hurricane Irene, Denver International Airport reported just 11 canceled flights on Monday morning. All of Monday’s canceled flights had originated on the East Coast and were scratched because of the storm, said Jenny Schiavone, a spokeswoman for the airport.

The airport did not expect any further cancellations or delays because of the hurricane, she said.

Aside from a few cancellations of flights heading into Baltimore over the weekend, the Albuquerque International Sunport experienced virtually no major delays or disruptions due to the storm.

“We were spared,” said an airport spokesman, Daniel Jiron, noting that the airport did not offer many direct flights to the East Coast. “The direct impact was very, very minimal.”

In Atlanta, Katena Carvajales, a spokeswoman for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, said there were no delays there although there were some cancellations.

Greg Chin, a spokesman for Miami International Airport, said there were four flights with delayed arrivals from Nassau in the Bahamas, and 20 canceled flights to and from the Northeast, five of them departures and 15 arrivals.

Joe Sharkey, Daniel Frosch and Robbie Brown contributed reporting.

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