The New York area is no stranger to snowstorms. It doesn’t typically take much of the fluffy white stuff to derail airport operations throughout the Northeast, but airports normally handle snow well, and service recovery is generally pretty uneventful.
So as last week’s bomb cyclone wrapped up and airlines began to resume service to John F. Kennedy Airport, what happened was unprecedented in modern airport operations.
The winter storm was more fierce than expected in parts of the region, catching almost all airlines off guard. The wind, more so than the snow, created a situation where the Port Authority’s experienced snow teams simply couldn’t keep up with the snow blowing off of Jamaica Bay, which is not an uncommon problem at JFK. To help prevent long delays, the airport was officially closed on Thursday, with an early-afternoon reopening time.
The reopening time was set for well before the bulk of international flights arrive at JFK, so airlines from around the world launched their full daily flight schedule with virtually no cancellations, assuming the airport would reopen on time. They were wrong, and it was a decision that set off a chain reaction of events that would linger for days. As the storm worsened and eventually became a full-blown blizzard, the reopening time was pushed back to 8 p.m., then eventually the airport threw in the towel and reset the opening for 7 a.m. on Friday.
But at that point, dozens of aircraft were already well on their way to New York. All…Read More