Hurricane Irma’s next target for air travel? The world’s busiest airport.
The storm was now expected to track toward Atlanta and other busy airports in the Southeast after making landfall in Florida on Sunday. Irma has already made a mess of flight schedules in Florida, and it began to do the same in Atlanta Monday. (MAIN STORY: Irma: Florida airports start to assess damage; cancellations now at 13,000 and counting)
Nearly 900 flights had been canceled there on Monday as airlines there braced for Irma, which spawned the first-ever tropical storm warning for Atlanta. Those cancellations accounted for about a third of the entire day’s schedule there, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.
Atlanta’s airport is the busiest in the world and is home to the largest hub for Delta Air Lines. The carrier has already warned of major disruptions there.
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“Armed with the latest forecast and hurricane projections, Delta teams in the airline’s Operations and Customer Center have decided to cancel about 900 flights Monday as Hurricane Irma is expected to bring to the Atlanta hub strong crosswinds that exceed operating limits on select mainline and regional aircraft,” Delta said in a statement early Monday.”
After Hurricane Irma struck Miami, the city’s largest airport is uncertain when it will be open to passengers. Josh King has the story (@abridgetoland).
Beyond that, Delta has advised customers with connections there Monday and Tuesday to try to change their itineraries to connect via different Atlanta hubs. Atlanta is included among the airports included in Delta’s change-fee waivers for Irma.
It’s not just Delta. Southwest Airlines says it will operate a “reduced schedule” at both Atlanta and Birmingham on Monday. The carrier said at least 65 Atlanta flights and 10 in Birmingham had already been canceled, but that it hoped “to resume normal operations by Tuesday” at those airports.
Even beyond the cancellations already announced, more were possible.
“At issue is Irma’s anticipated general north-south wind direction relative to Atlanta’s east-west runway configuration,” Delta added about Atlanta in its statement. “As is the case at all airports,…