Area airports fight back to normalcy post-storm

Travelers arrive at Newark Liberty International Airport in Travelers arrive at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark. (Jan. 3, 2014) Photo Credit: AP

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The region's airports struggled to get back to a normal flight schedule Friday after an overnight storm that dumped between 4 and 131/2 inches of snow across Long Island.

At the major airports, the number of flight cancellations continued to increase throughout the morning. By noon, there had been about 1,000 flight cancellations at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports, Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico said.

That number had jumped from about 750 cancellations at 6 a.m.

Managers at Kennedy Airport resumed flights late Friday morning after suspending operations because of zero visibility and high winds. By midafternoon, flight delays averaged about a half-hour at Kennedy and LaGuardia.

Flights at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma resumed about lunchtime Friday.

The first commercial flight to arrive there since the storm hit was a Southwest Airlines flight from Baltimore, which touched down about 12:40 p.m., spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia said.

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"Basically from 12 noon is when all the flights are scheduled," Birbiglia said.

The flight schedule Friday at MacArthur showed only one departure cancellation and one arrival cancellation.

About 40 percent of the two dozen scheduled flights were delayed, however, according to the airport's flight schedule.

Airport officials urged passengers to check with airlines before traveling to the airport for a flight.

Meanwhile, Newark Liberty airport had a "ground stop" program in place as of midafternoon, meaning that all commercial flights bound for the airport were to be held at their origin airport. The ground stop pushed the average delay for flights at Newark to 3 hours and 22 minutes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The reasons given for the ground stop were "gate issues" and "weather."

Typically, when weather affects flight schedules, gates at airports can get clogged because of aircraft that have been delayed even as arriving flights are scheduled to use the same gate, the FAA said.

Earlier Friday, there was a ground stop attributed to wind and icy conditions at airports with flights going to Newark, Marsico said.

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The biting cold, with temperatures in the single digits, is forecast to continue until Saturday, when afternoon highs should climb to the 20s, according to the National Weather Service.

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