Travel chaos continues even as Sandy's winds weaken

AFP , Tuesday 30 Oct 2012

Travel chaos continues as thousands of airplanes, buses, trains remain in terminals; power outages, strong winds resume; 16,000 flights cancelled since Sunday; most of East Coast cut off from rest of country

Airport Sandy
Travelers surround a flight monitor showing cancelled flights at LaGuardia airport in New York (Photo: Reuters)

Travel chaos showed little sign of abating Tuesday as flooding, power outages and strong winds from Sandy kept thousands of airplanes on the ground and buses and trains in their terminals.

More than 16,000 flights have been cancelled since Sandy first began battering the eastern United States on Sunday and regular schedules are not expected to resume before Thursday at the earliest.

New York's three main airports were closed -- and LaGuardia even had flood water on the runways -- and there was no word yet on when they would reopen.

The massive storm also caused major delays as far afield as Chicago -- about 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) from where Sandy made landfall along the New Jersey shore Monday evening -- as strong winds made take-offs and landings precarious propositions.

It has effectively shut most of the East Coast off from the rest of the country and the rest of the world as airlines in Europe, Asia and Latin America were also forced to cancel hundreds of US-bound flights.

Tens of thousands of people were stranded, many choosing to sleep in the airport terminal in hopes of getting a seat on the first available flights out. It could be a long wait.

Some 6,137 flights were cancelled Tuesday and 735 have already been cancelled on Wednesday, according to the online aviation tracking service

"We expect this number to rise once damage can be assessed and re-open times are communicated," chief Daniel Baker said.

Airlines will also have to accommodate passengers from 7,884 flights cancelled Monday and 1,372 flights cancelled Sunday.

Meanwhile, it could be days or even weeks before New York's subway system resumes after tunnels were flooded with sea water. There was also no word yet on when transit service would resume in Philadelphia.

Train and bus service in Washington, which avoided the worst of Sandy's fury but was still badly damaged, is expected to resume Tuesday afternoon. But airports near the nation's capital faced widespread cancellations even though they remain open

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