NEW YORK — Superstorm Sandy grounded more than 15,000 flights across the Northeast and the globe, and it could be days before some passengers can get where they’re going.
According to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, more than 6,000 flights were canceled on Tuesday. That brings the tally of flights canceled because of the storm to more than 15,000. By Tuesday morning, more than 500 flights scheduled for Wednesday also were canceled.
The three big New York airports were closed on Tuesday by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Stewart International Airport remained open, but airlines had suspended operations there.
In central Pennsylvania, Harrisburg International Airport is open but many flights were canceled.
New York has the nation’s busiest airspace, with about one-quarter of all U.S. flights traveling to or from there each day. So cancellations here can dramatically impact travel in other cities. Delays rippled across the U.S., affecting travelers in cities from San Francisco to Atlanta. Others attempting to fly out of Europe and Asia also were stuck.
Narita, the international airport near Tokyo, canceled 11 flights Tuesday — nine to the New York area and two to Washington, D.C. All Nippon Airways set up a special counter at Narita to deal with passengers whose flights had been canceled.
Even if storm damage is minor it could be a week before operations are normal at major East Coast airports, said Angela Gittens, director general of the Airports Council International, a trade group for airports worldwide.
Travelers overseas could wait days to get to the East Coast of the U.S.
“The storm has such a wide swath and so many major airports are involved that it’s going to take some time (to recover) because those airplanes are so far away,” said Gittens, who served as aviation director at Miami International Airport Dade during several hurricanes from 2001 to 2004.
The impact on airline’s bottom lines is unclear. Many of the customers on flights being canceled will reschedule later on, so the airlines will still collect the fares.