FRIDAY: Irma: Florida flights aren’t 100% back to normal, but they’re getting there

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Last update to this post: Thursday, Sept. 14

Flight disruptions from the fallout of Hurricane Irma stretched into Thursday and beyond, with nearly 1,000 additional flights canceled through Saturday. 

More than 645 flights had been canceled nationwide as of 12:30 p.m. ET, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. More than half of those came in Miami, with airports like Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville accounting for most of others.  

Already into the weekend, another 385 flights had been grounded on Friday and – so far – about 60 for Saturday. Again, most of those came in Miami and at other Florida airports hit by Irma, FlightAware’s tally showed.

FLIGHT TRACKER: Is your flight on time?

Overall, at least 17,000 flights have been canceled in the U.S. and the Caribbean since Irma first began affecting flights. That count would put the storm within range of the 20,000 flights canceled during “Superstorm Sandy.” That 2012 storm had one of the most-severe impacts on U.S. aviation of all weather-related events in the 2000s.

In Florida, the continuing cancellations underscored the challenge awaiting both airlines and airports as they tried to resume normal schedules. 

IN PICTURES: Hurricane Irma leaves trail of destruction in Florida, Southeast (story continues below)

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For airports, in addition to addressing damage that may have been caused by Irma, operations could only resume once personnel had returned. Many Floridians evacuated ahead of Irma, meaning many workers first had to return to the area before they could take up their posts at the airport. That affected everything from airport retail outlets to staffing for TSA and United States Customs and Border Protection locations.

Airlines faced a similar scenario. Planes that were flown out of the state to avoid Irma’s wrath first had to be flown back in. That process began in earnest on Tuesday, though it was likely to take much of the week for schedules to ramp up. Crews also had to be flown back in so they could be positioned to staff outbound flights.

While most Florida airports had…