By Karen Jacobs and Lynn Adler
Oct 30 As rail, transit, airline and port
workers dug through debris, dealt with power outages and
assessed damage on Tuesday, one thing became increasingly clear:
Restoring full transportation could take some time.
Hurricane Sandy's assault on the Eastern U.S. so brutally
flooded tracks and roads, felled trees and downed power lines,
it could be days or weeks before travelers and cargo are moving
around normally again, officials said.
The three major New York area airports, which serve the
nation's busiest airspace, remained closed on Tuesday, and
officials said they had no estimate for when the airports would
Late Tuesday, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said
it was possible that there would be limited service on Wednesday
at John F. Kennedy International Airport. There was no
indication that LaGuardia and Newark Liberty would offer service
on Wednesday. The three airports handle 300,000 passengers a
Nearly 16,000 flights have been canceled since Sunday as a
result of the storm, including 7,791 canceled on Monday, 6,047
on Tuesday and 635 so far for Wednesday, according to flight
tracking service FlightAware.com.
Airlines said they planned to restart service Tuesday at
some East Coast airports, including Boston and Philadelphia.
Both Dulles and Reagan National in Washington, D.C., were open
during the storm and airlines are starting to bring personnel
and planes back; limited operations were expected to begin
Tuesday afternoon, said Kimberly Gibbs, a spokeswoman with
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
"New York airports are still a question," JetBlue
spokeswoman Allison Steinberg said on Tuesday. "We are waiting
for condition reports from the Port Authority, but we are ready
to deploy our plan to resume operations to JFK, LaGuardia and
Newark tomorrow afternoon."
And even if the airports reopen, travelers' itineraries are
likely to be tangled throughout the week as airlines sort out
getting their people, planes and passengers into position.
"If flights (in the New York area) started to resume as
early as tomorrow, it could be four to five days before we start
to see schedules get back to normal," said Jeanenne Tornatore, a
senior editor with online travel agency Orbitz Worldwide. "I
think it will be into the late weekend."
Most Amtrak service along the busy Northeast corridor
remained suspended for a second day Tuesday, but officials were
working to reopen some service Wednesday.
"We have crews out there right now assessing and making
necessary repairs," said Christina Leeds, an Amtrak spokeswoman.
United Parcel Service, the world's largest package
delivery company, said it had resumed deliveries to hospitals
and clinics in Manhattan and New Jersey where roads are safe.
But delivery remained halted in Washington, D.C., Baltimore
and Philadelphia. UPS is "respecting areas where government
officials only want emergency responders out in Delaware, New
Jersey, Philly and parts of Maryland and Virginia," spokeswoman
Susan Rosenberg said.
FedEx Corp said it was working to resume service on
Wednesday in affected areas, but that hub airport closures and
storm debris would affect service. "If you're at a house
blockaded by fallen trees, we won't be able to get to it," said
Scott Fiedler, a spokesman.
In New York, workers from the Port Authority and the Federal
Aviation Administration are assessing damage at major airports,
including power issues, possible damage to structures and other
safety checks, the FAA and the Port Authority said.
Airlines needed to bring back planes, which were flown out
to avoid the storm, to resume service.
"We are focused on reopening as quickly as possible. But we
will not compromise safety," said Pasquale DiFulco, a spokesman
for the Port Authority. "We need to walk the runways and make
sure there's no debris."
He declined to estimate when they would reopen. "Certainly
we would like to within the next few days seek to resume normal
operations," he said. "But a lot of things are outside our
The reopening of New York's transit system will play a large
role in reopening the airports, because many of the workers at
security checkpoints, customs and concessions, and baggage
handlers and flight crews, rely on public transportation to get
to work. "That's going to be a key part of the equation,"
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it could take four or
five days to restore service on the city transit system, the
"The availability of public transportation will also play
into the New York plan, too - so it remains very, very fluid,"
said JetBlue spokeswoman Steinberg.
About 220 travelers remain stranded at the airports - 100 at
John F. Kennedy and 60 each at Newark Liberty and LaGuardia,
DiFulco said. They were provided with cots and at least one food
vendor was required to stay open 24 hours at each terminal.
"We hate to see anybody stranded," DiFulco said. "We're
providing cots and water and working on food vouchers. We're
doing everything we can to keep people comfortable."
Meanwhile, flights resumed Tuesday at Stewart International
Airport, about 60 miles north of Manhattan, near Newburgh, New
York. The first commercial flight since the storm was expected
to arrive around noon Tuesday, DiFulco said.
Railway freight companies also were working to restore
service. CSX Corp, the nation's second-largest publicly
traded railway company, said its network remains closed from
Richmond, Virginia, to Albany, New York, and that it had halted
traffic originating on other lines traveling to most points
between Boston and Philadelphia.
CSX said it still had a lot of its track to inspect, and
that it had found flooding, downed trees and power outages along
"Our engineering teams are out removing trees, making sure
generators are up against power outages, and reinstalling
Norfolk Southern Corp said it was waiting for
floodwater to subside, was clearing snow in western Virginia and
West Virginia, and had a power line across tracks in Cleveland.
Airlines could lose $175 million in revenue from flights
canceled because of the storm, said Michael Boyd, an aviation
consultant with Boyd Group International in Evergreen, Colorado.
"None of it is life-threatening corporately, but it is
significant," he said.
Boyd said Delta Air Lines, JetBlue and United would be among
the carriers taking the hardest financial hit. He added that AMR
Corp's American Airlines operates 25 percent of the
flights at JFK.
"From the airline perspective, closing your major hubs for
several days is worth of a lot of revenue," said Carter Leake,
an analyst at BB&T Capital Markets in Richmond, Virginia.
Airlines have high fixed costs and the loss of revenue would
likely lower profits, he added.
Philadelphia's airport did not close but Monday flights were
canceled. "We had no damage to the facility, we had no flooding
so we were very fortunate," airport spokeswoman Victoria Lupica
said on Tuesday.
Germany's Lufthansa has an inbound and outbound
flight, and cargo carriers have resumed some operations, she
Delta Air Lines said it resumed flights to
Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon.
Atlantic City's airport was closed except for military
flights, but Spirit Airlines, the main commercial
carrier there, may resume some service later on Tuesday, said
Kevin Rehmann, a spokesman for the South Jersey Transportation
The area was hard hit as the hurricane came ashore Monday
night. "The water is receding but it left behind lots of debris
and mud and dirt," he said.