Northeast Airports Cleared and Ready for Take-Off

July 7, 2008 - 7:20 PM

(CNSNews.com) - The blankets of snow and ice that kept air traffic at a standstill at major airports in the Northeast Monday were cleared as of early Tuesday morning. Airport officials said it's now up to the airlines to get their planes in the sky and back on the ground in the metropolitan areas of Boston, Mass., and New York.

According to Phil Orlandella, a spokesman for Boston's Logan International Airport, both of the airport's runways are clear, but so are the ticket lines and customer lounges.

"There is no delay because there is no demand." Orlandella said. "There's nothing in the system to create a delay."

Orlandella said Logan was still relatively quiet because airport officials had warned passengers two days prior to Monday's blizzard about the inclement weather and high probability of delayed flights.

All of Logan's early morning departures were cancelled, as well as arrivals, Orlandella said. But as of mid-morning, all airlines were gradually adding flights back into the scheduling system, he told CNSNews.com.

Orlandella said Logan Airport officials are now waiting for the individual airlines to decide when to begin accepting passengers and flights for departure and arrival.

"That's their discretion, as always," Orlandella said, noting that Logan has placed no demands on the airlines to commence operations on Tuesday.

The only noticeable runway obstacle that Orlandella observed at Logan was wind direction, something that occurs year-round and is unavoidable no matter the weather situation.

The Port Authority of New York (PANY) has also signaled to travelers and airlines that its major airports are open and ready for business. Still, the transportation system remains limited there as well, in the aftermath of snowfalls that reached up to 20 inches in the metropolitan region.

PANY spokesman Steve Coleman said both John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport were operating at 50 to 70 percent of their capacity as of mid-morning Tuesday. He estimated minimal increases in airline operations for the remainder of the day due to continued cancellations on behalf of airlines and passengers who have postponed their flights.

At New York's LaGuardia Airport, Coleman said runways were cleared and ready for take-offs and arrivals as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, though at a limited initial capacity.

"Runways are clear and ready to go," Coleman said. "It's up to the airlines to get their personnel and their aircraft in position," Coleman said.

All major airlines are advising customers to contact their reservations departments for current flight information, including delays and cancellations. Some have even taken a high-tech approach to keeping their customers informed at all times.

United Airlines encouraged its customers to keep up to date on their travel status throughout the blizzard via cellular phone, pager and electronic mail. The airline offers a free paging service that automatically notifies customers of their flight's status and delivers alerts to spouses, assistants and anyone else who may be waiting at a passenger's destination.

The economic impact of the blizzard conditions was obvious but not yet totaled on paper, said Julie King, a spokesperson for Continental Airlines.

"It severely impacted [sales] yesterday," King said. "The airports pretty much in the Northeast region yesterday were closed... I haven't quite got all the scoop on what's going on this morning."

E-mail a news tip to Michael L. Betsch.

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