Hundreds of US flights have been cancelled as Tropical Storm Nicole pummels Central Florida with strong winds and heavy rain, disrupting operations at several airport and forcing the shutdown of Orlando International airport.
“If you’re flying in to or out of the Florida market, you can expect significant travel delays,” the Federal Aviation Administration said on 10 November. “Currently, Orlando international airport is closed to all aircraft except for military, emergency and cargo operations.”
Orlando International ceased commercial and private operations at 16:00 local time on 9 November in advance of the approaching storm, forcing the cancellation of 720 flights through 10 November, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.com.
Palm Beach International airport was closed for nearly 24h, halting commercial operations at 09:00 on 9 November and reopening at 08:00 the following day. Airlines cancelled 130 flights there.
Tampa International airport remained open – though 84 flights had been cancelled – the morning of 10 November but warned of “increasing delays and cancellations due to the storm”. The airport authority urged air travellers to check with airlines for timely information.
Both Miami International and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airports remained open as the storm made landfall further north, though dozens of flights out of South Florida were cancelled.
At Jacksonville International, 35 flights had been cancelled as of 10 November. Meanwhile, Sarasota Bradenton International airport – which was forced to close in late September due to Hurricane Ian – has been less impacted by the tropical storm, with only a handful of cancellations, according to FlightAware.com.
The latest weather-related travel disruptions come just weeks after the deadly and destructive Hurricane Ian, which significantly impacted commercial airline operations in the Sunshine State.
In just one example, Miramar, Florida-based Spirit Airlines cancelled about 550 flights in September and 400 in October due to Hurricane Ian, the airline said during its third-quarter earnings call on 27 October. Spirit estimates the disaster-related disruptions resulted in a $10 million loss spread evenly between the third and fourth quarters.