JetBlue passengers continued to experience delays Tuesday after the airline resumed operations following cancellation of all flights at three New York airports, due to a snowstorm and frigid temperatures.
JetBlue chief operating officer Rob Maruster Tuesday defended the carrier's decision to suspend all flights at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports, as well as Boston Logan airport, on Monday for 17 hours to give the crews rest and allow mechanics to service the planes.
The move, which he said was done for safety reasons, left some of JetBlue's passengers stranded. "I absolutely think we did the right thing," he told reporters Tuesday.
Recent snow and cold helped overtax its workers, JetBlue said. Flight reduction began 1 p.m. Monday. There were no flights out of the three cities from 5 p.m. Monday to 10 a.m. Tuesday, it said.
The cold snap in several regions of the nation also forced other U.S. carriers to cancel hundreds of flights. JetBlue, which has major operations in New York and Boston, was hit hard.
Shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday, the carrier said about 25 percent of its scheduled departures had resumed and the airlines expected to get back to 100 percent operational by the afternoon.
Compounding the problem was the unexpected closings at Kennedy Airport, including the four-hour shutdown on Sunday, because workers were unable to move snow off the runways, Maruster said.
New work rules, which kicked in on Jan. 4, during one of the busiest times for airlines, didn't help matters, Maruster said.
The new rules require pilots to have 10 hours of rest, including eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, in between their shifts. They also require that pilots get 30 consecutive hours of rest each week, up from 24 hours under prior rules.
To appease angry passengers, JetBlue said it plans to apologize and offer perks to those affected. A compensation chart is posted at blog.jetblue.com and offers rewards points or a round-trip ticket on a future flight.