The storm has forced several Florida airports to close.
Thousands of flights in the US have been canceled as Hurricane Ian begins to make landfall. Over 350 flights were canceled on Tuesday and another 1,900 on Wednesday as the Category 4 storm approaches Florida.
Hurricane Ian forces cancelations and closures
Over 2,000 flights in, out, and within the US have been canceled as Florida braces itself for Hurricane Ian. The storm, expected to hit the Tampa region of Florida, has already wreaked havoc in Cuba and entered the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.
Data from FlightAware shows the storm’s impact on flight operations in Florida. The worst-affected airports include Tampa International Airport (TPA) and Southwest Florida International (RSW), which both canceled over 95% of flights in or out this Wednesday.
Orlando International Airport (MCO) canceled over 700 flights in and out, while Miami International Airport (MIA), which isn’t in the expected path of Hurricane Ian, scrapped over 40% of operations, amounting to around 450 flights.
Tampa International Airport, Sarasota Bradenton Airport (SRQ) and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) closed on Tuesday, while Orlando International Airport will close on Wednesday.
Airlines issue updates
Major US airlines, many of which have canceled hundreds of flights due to Hurricane Ian, have kept travelers updated on the situation.
Southwest Airlines stopped flying out of Tampa, Sarasota and Fort Myers on Tuesday and won’t return until Thursday at the earliest. The airline has so far canceled over 400 flights on Wednesday and 350 on Thursday, joined by JetBlue which has scrapped around a quarter of its flights.
American Airlines has issued travel alerts for airports in the western Caribbean and Florida and will help those affected by waiving fees for checked baggage and setting a price cap on fares.
Other airlines, including Alaska Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, have waived their booking and cancelations fees for affected travelers.
Thousands of delays
The storm has also caused significant disruption to airports that remain open for operations, leading to scores of flight delays. There were over 3,000 flight delays in the US on Tuesday, with this figure expected to rise as the storm makes landfall on Wednesday.
Kathleen Bangs, a spokesperson for FlightAware, told Forbes,
“There will be few air travelers not affected one way or the other by Ian this week, especially if strong or long-lasting storms and heavy rain impact Atlanta or other major airports. There’s a strong chance we’re still looking down the barrel for high delays and cancellations as Ian begins to directly impact the US.”
Given the importance of Florida as an aviation hub, expect the fallout from Hurricane Ian to extend far beyond the Sunshine state.
Source: Simple Flying