Thu, Dec 30, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Airlines play huge game of catch-up in NYC area

FRUSTRATING:As airlines tried to clear a backlog, they dispatched planes to Kennedy Airport without lining up gate space first, causing further backups

AP, NEW YORK

Airports trying to shepherd a backlog of planes churned snow plows through the night in an effort to return thousands of passengers stranded by a weekend snowstorm to their homes.

By yesterday morning, most flights at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty Airport were taking off and landing as scheduled. Continental Airlines said its hub there was nearly normal, but that some cancellations and delays remained.

In snowbound neighborhoods in New York, where hundreds of buses and dozens of ambulances got stuck in the snowdrifts, unplowed roads still hampered bus services yesterday morning. Officials, while making no promises, had said they hoped to have streets cleared by later in the day.

“It’s a bad situation and we’re working together to correct it,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Avout 1,000 vehicles had been removed from three major New York City-area expressways alone, he said.

General delays were reported yesterday morning at New York’s Kennedy airport, where at least three airliners — two Cathay Pacific planes and a British Airways plane — were stuck for more than seven hours on Tuesday while they waited for an open gate.

The airport remained filled on Tuesday night with passengers trying to rebook flights, make hotel reservations or figure out alternate plans. Lines at counters for rental cars, ground transportation and lost luggage remained long throughout the day.

More than 5,000 flights were canceled at the three main airports in New York .

As airlines struggled to catch up, they dispatched planes to Kennedy without lining up gate space first, causing backups on the ground, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport.

Gigi Godfrey, of Belize, spent 10 hours trapped in a Cathay Pacific plane until the flight was finally able to deplane on Tuesday.

“It was so frustrating, just sitting there for hours, waiting for more bad news,” she said.

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