JFK Airport Gets Tighter Storm Protocol After Its Bomb Cyclone Bungle

Apr 30, 2018

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The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced new protocols for aircraft landing during storms at New York’s JFK Airport, which it hopes will prevent a repeat of the mass confusion during a blizzard in January that snarled the airport’s operations and left many flights circling the area without a place to land.

The Port Authority, which runs the airport, said now when a storm emergency is declared, airlines must get permission to land at JFK before departing from their airport of origin. The new requirements only apply when a storm emergency is officially declared.

The major source of confusion for the chaos in January was international flights that started on their long-haul routes before JFK realized it needed to close due to the bomb cyclone storm that pummeled the Northeast with heavy snow and wind. Most of those flights were able to divert to other US airports, but those additional airports quickly became overwhelmed, too, with unscheduled incoming flights. The result was days of scheduling chaos in terminals throughout the region.

Other planes landed at JFK during the blizzard and found there was no gate to receive them. Many of the gates were backed up with empty planes that never took off due to the snow. So, many passengers sat stranded on the runways for hours.

Adding to the confusion was the fact that each of the airports six terminals are run by independent entities — either the airlines or other private operators — that were not communicating with one another during the bomb cyclone. The Port Authority’s new protocol stipulates that all terminals must share equipment, staff and gates, as well was requiring airlines to have baggage service in their respective terminals.

The Port Authority is still waiting for the full report on the operations breakdown at JFK from the January snow storm. It commissioned former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to probe the incident, and the full report is expected to be released sometime in May.

H/T: The Wall Street Journal

Featured image by Rebecca Butala How/Getty Images.

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