Passengers stranded from US to Hong Kong to Europe
As it slams into the Unites States’ eastern seaboard, Hurricane Sandy has grounded thousands of flights, shut down rail services and harbours and closed the New York Stock Exchange for the first time since 1985. Passengers are stranded from Hong Kong to Europe. Air travel will be shut down for at least two days in a key region of the US for both domestic and international flights. Around 7,500 flights had been canceled so far for Sunday and Monday. Sandy is a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds 120 kph. It has already been blamed for 65 deaths in the Caribbean. Forecasters say the hurricane could become the “perfect storm” as it collides with a winter storm front descending from Canada and cold air pushing down from Greenland.
What meteorologists are describing as the biggest storm ever to hit the United States is also affecting travel worldwide. In Hong Kong, for example, business travellers are learning that they could be stuck there for nearly a week before seats on flights to the US become available.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs five airports in the area, said it expected all airlines to stop operations Sunday night. United Airlines says it aims to resume flights on Tuesday if conditions permit. American Airlines, US Airways, JetBlue and others have axed flights into Wednesday. Delta Air Lines is offering customers to make one-off changes to their travel schedules without incurring fees.
Air France has cancelled four Monday flights to JFK and two departures; Lufthansa cancelled three flights to the northeastern US and one flight out of Newark. Cathay, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and Air India, among other international carriers, have also axed US flights.
British Airways flights to and from JFK, Newark, Baltimore and Boston have been cancelled. Virgin Atlantic flights to and from New York, Washington and Boston are also not being operated.
[photo courtesy NASA]