Fri, Sep 03, 2004
As Hurricane Frances continued its inexorable march across the
Caribbean toward landfall somewhere on the east coast of Florida,
airports faced closure and airlines faced cancellations just ahead
of the busy Labor Day weekend.
US Airways, American, Southwest and Continental were all
jockeying aircraft around to keep them away from Frances, which
bore down on Florida Thursday with sustained winds in excess of 145
miles an hour. Many airlines were allowing passengers to reschedule
their flights without penalties in the face of the storm.
"We recommend that travellers flying in the next couple of days
contact their respective airlines directly," said Laska Ryan,
spokeswoman for Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort
Myers, in an interview with the Fort Myers News-Press. She added,
"of course, the airport is open. We expect it to continue to be
open, unless there’s debris on the runway."
But other airports -- especially those along Florida's
southeastern coast, weren't expected to fair so well. Delta said it
would probably cancel at least some flights to and from Florida as
early as Friday morning. US Airways cancelled all flights to the
Bahamas Thursday and Friday. In hopes of getting passengers out
early, both airlines said they were sending additional flights and
bigger aircraft to Florida ahead of the hurricane's arrival.
International carriers cancelled flights into and out of both
Orlando and Tampa -- even though those airports weren't expected to
see much storm activity until Saturday. British Airways reportedly
said it would monitor the situation in Miami and would cancel
flight operations there if necessary.
Orlando airports were set to close on Friday, a full day ahead
of the storm, although Orlando International Airport pledged to
remain open as long as possible.
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