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Airports reopen amid weakened Hurricane Irene

By control on August 29, 2011

Despite expectations for mass destruction last weekend, Hurricane Irene — the tempest that pounded the Caribbean before touching down on the U.S. East Coast — was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm before it hit New York City. For the aviation industry, this weakened weather meant fewer flight closures and a faster recovery of airport operations than originally anticipated.

After closing a few airports on August 27 in anticipation of the storm, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ) announced that LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports reopened to both arriving and departing flights on August 29. Experts say this signals good news for New York, which saw the brunt of Irene’s wrath and was declared a state of emergency by President Barack Obama.

New Windsor, N.Y.-based Stewart International Airport is also scheduled to resume operations on August 29, although PANYNJ representatives encourage invested parties to check with individual carriers about their flight status. PANYNJ worked with the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and carriers to coordinate the reopenings of LaGuardia, JFK, Newark and Stewart airports, officials said.

New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport didn’t fare as well as the other airports, however, and will require work to resolve flooding issues before operations can recommence.

Furthermore, Logan Airport in Boston, which was also in Hurricane Irene’s path, has resumed flight arrivals after suspending service on August 28. Airport officials said departing flights remain canceled or delayed on August 29 since the required aircraft didn’t arrive to Logan on time. Philadelphia International Airport seems to have managed better than Logan and resumed full service on August 29.

In addition to airports, carriers have announced the recommencement of service to airports affected by Hurricane Irene. Delta Cargo, for instance, has resumed flights to East Coast airports after suspending freight service to JFK airport, Baltimore/Washington International Airport, Virginia’s Richmond International Airport and more.

United Airlines and Continental Airlines have also resumed flights to airports in Boston; White Plains, N.Y.; Hartford, Conn.; Providence, R.I.; Portland, Maine; Manchester, N.H.; and Albany, N.Y. Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airways, American Airlines and Jet Blue Airlines have followed suit, publicizing the full resumption of services to New York-based airports on August 29.

US Airways Group needed more time to regroup, however. Flights to New York, Washington and Philadelphia airports remain disrupted for the carrier, with US Airways planning a “limited start-up” on the morning of August 30. “Our hope is that the operation will be completely back to normal by Tuesday morning,” company spokesman Todd Lehmacher said in a statement.

In total, Hurricane Irene grounded 11,100 flights.

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