JFK airport scrambles to clean up after latest debacle

JFK airport scrambles to clean up after latest debacle

At one point, passengers told Eyewitness News that airport officials wanted to do a full evacuation of the building, but they backtracked due to the bitter cold temperatures outside.

That mismatch continued into Saturday, as the airlines played catch-up on the flights they had sent elsewhere or had canceled. The storm struck as many travelers were making their way home from end-of-year holidays and 2018 business travel was getting going.

The Port Authority will review airport operations from the start of the winter weather, through the "inability" of global flights being able to arrive at gates in a timely manner into Monday. Extreme cold caused further equipment malfunctions and problems. The Port Authority has launched a full investigation to find out what happened, saying it will "hold all responsible parties accountable".

Even after the airport reopened, diversions continued as there weren't enough gates to handle the influx of flights: the previous days' schedule plus new arriving flights. The Federal Aviation Administration on Saturday suspended arrivals of some flights. That day an Aeroflot plane from Moscow turned back halfway through the trip to JFK.

The airport was experiencing departure delays averaging about half an hour, according to the website FlightAware.

Passengers at JFK complained on social media that they were not able to retrieve their luggage as bags piled up at claims areas. Christine Amorose Merrill, a travel and lifestyle blogger, was scheduled to fly home from NY to San Diego on Thursday morning on a JetBlue flight. Snow and sleet were in the forecast for the NY area during the rush hour period, which could throw things even more off track.

It's a question no one can fully answer yet, but the Port Authority of NY and New Jersey, which leases, operates and oversees the airport, must do better. The airline initially were very good, in that they transported a coach containing my son to a hotel for the night, telling him and others that they would fly on 5 January. For one, gates are often allotted to scheduled flights. "There's a big lack of information".

And then on Sunday, the water pipe burst and flooded Terminal 4.

The Port Authority said on Sunday that the airport's runways and taxiways were "fully operational" following Saturday's problems, but that the airlines themselves were still in "recovery mode", as the cold weather was still leading to equipment failures and operational slowdowns. The flooding took out two thirds of the arrivals area of Terminal 4, including Customs and Immigration processing facility. However, officials urged passengers to check with their airline before heading to the airport.

Five days of chaos at Kennedy Airport generated delays and difficulties at airports worldwide and trapped thousands of passengers at the global gateway to NY on planes, in lines at customs and in terminals, one of which flooded as luggage piled up.

As of 4 p.m. local time, the JFK Airport wrote on Twitter that there are "no worldwide arrivals at this time", but that "international departures are not affected".

As an example, Mr. Rabinowitz cited Iberia Flight 6253, which got halfway to NY from Madrid before making a U-turn and going back to Spain: an eight-hour fight to nowhere.

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