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JFK Airport water main break forces terminal evacuation amid massive delays

JFK Airport water main break forces terminal evacuation amid massive delays

Things are only getting worse at John F. Kennedy International Airport. At 1 p.m., it was telling travelers that it meant to resume flight activity later that day. The air travel disruptions in the wake of powerful winter storm that struck the East Coast last week only snowballed thanks to a blast of cold temperatures and confusion on whether the airport was up and running. He did say that the Port Authority "departed from past practice" over the weekend, and requested assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration in limiting inbound global flights in the midday hours and in the late afternoon Saturday.

Because of a snowstorm that slammed the NY metropolitan area Thursday, many passengers at JFK and LaGuardia airports remain stranded from canceled or delayed flights. Christine Amorose Merrill, a travel and lifestyle blogger, was scheduled to fly home from NY to San Diego on Thursday morning on a JetBlue flight.

Reygie Papasin, 32, arrived at JFK from the Philippines and was scheduled to fly to Miami on Monday. "Yet we're relying on infrastructure systems where they land and the airports that they have to go through that are just aging and aging". This is his first time in the United States. Twelve worldwide flights arrived during the time of the water main break, and all were de-planed and processed through Customs.

Late Monday, Cotton said recovery efforts remained under way.

As of Monday afternoon, the majority of flights were operating on or close to schedule, said Huntley Lawrence, the Port Authority's aviation director. Arrivals at Terminal 4 have reopened as of 7:45 p.m. yesterday, but there are, of course, those residual delays to deal with. Moments after the rupture, sheets of water cascaded from the ceiling onto passenger waiting areas. He said the Port Authority has been in close contact with the private operators of terminals 1 and 4, which handle much of the worldwide airline traffic at JFK. The authority said it will "hold those responsible accountable for any shortcomings we find".

"While the water pipe break that occurred appears to be weather-related, we have launched an investigation into the incident to determine exactly what occurred and why an internal pipe was not weather-protected".

As of Monday morning, flights from the airport are delayed by an average of 31 minutes, according to FlightAware.

At least 280 flights to and from JFK were delayed Monday.

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The airport reopened Friday, and operations went smoothly that day, Cotton said in a Sunday evening press conference.

Port Authority officials are quick to point out that the airlines and terminal operators handle connecting planes with gates, and that the terminals are privately operated.

Hitting hour two on the tarmac upon arriving at JFK on Friday night, my British Airways pilot took to the PA to call the situation a "comedy of errors", describing a line of planes circling aimlessly looking for parking. Extreme cold caused further equipment malfunctions and problems. Baggage claim areas became backed up, planes were filled to capacity because of earlier delays and employees didn't show up for work because of the weather, he said. The domestic terminals, he noted, did not experience the same delays. Cotton said the days of delays, cancellations and stranded travelers add up to a "completely unacceptable performance".

The airline is also working to return baggage to passengers, Cotton said.

Worldwide terminal operators intend to reunite passengers still in New York City with lost baggage by Tuesday morning, he said.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of NY said JFK officials should have foreseen some of the problems.

The deep freeze follows a storm, dubbed a "bomb cyclone" by forecasters, which has been blamed for at least 19 deaths in the United States, from Texas to Wisconsin, US media reported.


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