* JetBlue cuts nearly 900 flights, moves 50 planes
* Airlines move supplies to terminals in case of damage
* NY Islip's MacArthur airport takes on area equipment
* Airline shares rise
By Lynn Adler
NEW YORK, Aug 26 U.S. airlines have cut at
least 1,000 flights and are moving airplanes out of the
anticipated path of Hurricane Irene, while airports are taking
steps to minimize damage from the storm.
AMR Corp's AMR.N American Airlines is "battening the
hatches at our airport operations," said spokesman Ed
"We are laying in supplies, things like tarps to throw over
computers and electronics should we shut down the terminals,
and plywood so that if there is any glass damage we can move
quickly to secure those areas," he said.
The airline has terminals in New York and other cities that
the hurricane may hit.
Tropical storm winds are expected to hit North Carolina on
Friday afternoon and stretch to New England over the weekend,
causing massive power outages and flooding. (For other Reuters
coverage, click [ID:nN180088]).
American has canceled more than 130 flights on Thursday and
Friday as the storm moves north, and that number could
increase, Martelle said.
It is shutting down its Washington operations for 24 hours
starting noon on Saturday and will probably make a decision
about New York area airports later on Friday.
Flights are still full due to busy summer travel, making
rescheduling more complicated, Martelle said.
Crews at Reagan National airport in Washington worked on
Friday to secure ground equipment and make other storm
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees
air traffic control operations, has made no decision to close
any airport towers.
There were few delayed flights on Friday in the
mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, where U.S. air traffic is
JetBlue Airways (JBLU.O) was the first airline to cancel a
significant number of flights, nearly 900.
The airline, which is based out of New York's JFK Airport,
is canceling all flights scheduled for Sunday into Monday while
adding extra sections on Saturday night and Monday night, said
spokeswoman Allison Steinberg.
In the Northeast, JetBlue is moving about 50 aircraft out
of New York and Boston area airports to cities outside the
expected path of the hurricane.
"We anticipate ... that we'll be able to recover more
quickly with those aircraft and crews repositioned," Steinberg
Other airlines are canceling flights in the Carolinas and
Several carriers, including Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), said
they were holding meetings and would announce more detailed
plans during the afternoon.
Delta canceled two round trip flights on Thursday,
spokesman Eric Torbenson said. Like most airlines, it offered
customers in affected areas a fee waiver on changes or
Long Island MacArthur Airport along the Atlantic coastline
in New York is taking "every precaution," Commissioner of
Aviation Teresa Rizzuto said.
The airport in the town of Islip sits on 1,311 acres, about
twice that of LaGuardia Airport.
"It does look like it's going right to the town of Islip
... a tidal surge will really hurt" surrounding areas, Rizzuto
said. But other airports and towns in Suffolk County are
storing equipment and placing emergency vehicles at MacArthur
because it is 99 feet above sea level and relatively protected
from flooding, she added.
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey said late on
Thursday that airports would remain open. At its five airports,
hundreds of heavy-duty vehicles are available, as well as
dozens of police vehicles and rescue equipment.
The Arca Airline index .XAL was up 1.3 percent in
(Additional reporting by John Crawley in Washington; Editing
by Lisa Von Ahn)