Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Flight cancellations mount as Irma pushes north from Florida

Published:Tuesday | September 12, 2017 | 9:00 AM
Charlotte Glaze gives Donna Lamb a teary hug as she floats out some of her belongings in floodwaters from the Ortega River in Jacksonville, Florida yesterday after Hurricane Irma passed through the area.

Florida (AP):

Big airports in Florida remained closed yesterday, and flight cancellations were spreading north along the track of Tropical Storm Irma.

American Airlines said it won't resume flights in Miami until at least today, revising its plans to restart late yesterday.

An airline spokesman said the timetable depended on approval by federal aviation officials and the ability of security screeners and airport vendors to return to work.

Terminal buildings at the Miami airport suffered significant damage, and ceiling tiles at gate areas fell down throughout the airport, said spokesman Greg Chin. He said around midday that crews were drying areas.

At nearby Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, there were some leaks in terminal roofs and trees were downed in the employee parking lot, but overall damage was minimal, said spokesman Greg Meyer. He said water on the runways was receding.

Airlines were expected to fly empty planes to the Fort Lauderdale airport later yesterday to operate departing flights this morning, Meyer said.

More than 3,900 US flights scheduled for yesterday were canceled by late morning - and more than 9,000 since Saturday - according to tracking service FlightAware.

Disruptions have spread beyond Florida. Delta Air Lines canceled 900 flights yesterday, including many at its Atlanta hub because of high winds. American canceled 300 flights in Charlotte, North Carolina, due to wind.

Still, Irma weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm and didn't cause as much damage in Florida as some forecasters had feared. Stocks rose, including airlines.

Shares of American Airlines Group Inc, Delta Air Lines Inc, United Continental Holdings Inc, JetBlue Airways Corp, and Spirit Airlines Inc all gained at least two percent in midday trading. Spirit, JetBlue and American were the biggest risers in percentage terms - those three have a greater percentage of flights in Florida and the Caribbean than do their rivals, according to a Raymond James analyst.