- Associated Press - Sunday, August 28, 2011

Travelers across the nation waited for flights to resume in and out of East Coast airports that were closed by Tropical Storm Irene this weekend.

Irene was downgraded from a hurricane Sunday as winds ebbed around the time that the storm pushed into New York, the nation’s busiest air-traffic region.

Federal officials said airports reopened around Washington, which took a glancing blow from Irene. American Airlines said it was resuming flights at the three major airports around the capital.

New York-area airports remained closed on Sunday morning. The longer that New York’s Kennedy and LaGuardia and New Jersey’s Newark airports are shuttered, the worse it will be as travel delays ripple across the country. Federal officials said they didn’t know when the airports would reopen, noting that mass transit in New York remained shut down, making it difficult for airport employees and passengers to reach the airports.

Airlines said passengers should call ahead and make sure they have a confirmed seat before going to the airport.

JetBlue Airways expected to resume flights in New York and Boston around midday Monday.

“It’s really dependent upon mass transit and the airport being ready to support the startup,” JetBlue CEO Dave Barger told NBC.

United and Continental airlines would decide on Monday’s schedule later Sunday after checking facilities for storm damage, company spokeswoman Julie King said.

Airlines already canceled thousands of flights for Sunday, but it was unclear how much havoc the storm would cause for travelers. Many planes have been full this summer, so finding empty seats for passengers whose first flight was canceled could be difficult.

United, Continental, Delta, American, Southwest and JetBlue canceled all Sunday flights in the New York and Philadelphia areas long before Irene hit. They also moved planes out of the storm’s path to avoid damage, further slowing the recovery of normal service.

FlightAware, which tracks delays and cancelations, said airlines had indicated about 500 cancelations for Monday, said the service’s CEO, Daniel Baker. That would be a very small percentage of the nation’s flights.

The storm affected other forms of transportation too. Amtrak canceled many passenger trains, Greyhound scrubbed trips between Washington and New York, and cruise lines changed some of their itineraries as Irene made its way from the Bahamas to the Northeast.



Click to Read More

Click to Hide