Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) — United Continental Holdings Inc. and AMR Corp.’s American Airlines suspended most flights to and from the New York area starting later today because of a winter storm forecast to hit the northeastern U.S.
More than 1,160 U.S. flights have already been scrubbed today and tomorrow, on top of 20,000 cancellations from Hurricane Sandy last week, according to industry researcher FlightAware.com. While airlines often move planes from a storm’s path, United took the deeper step of suspending most service hours after forecasters warned of the storm’s intensity.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like this, when it’s just heavy rains and winds,” Bob McAdoo, an analyst with Los Angeles-based Imperial Capital LLC, said in an interview after Chicago-based United led off the cancellations.
United said long-haul international services and flights to other hubs from New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport will continue while other operations stop there and at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport at noon.
About 500 flights will be scrubbed before service resumes at midday tomorrow, representing about 5 percent of United’s schedule over that period, Charles Hobart, a spokesman for the world’s largest carrier, said in an e-mail.
American and its American Eagle regional partner grounded 290 flights, and also will suspend services in Philadelphia at noon local time, about three hours before grounding New York flights.
Delta Air Lines Inc. eliminated 150 flights and said that figure may rise, while US Airways Group Inc. scrubbed 36 and Southwest Airlines Co. said it was tracking the storm.
The carriers expect to resume flights tomorrow morning.
Some New Jersey towns ordered evacuations yesterday after the National Weather Service forecast the risk of a storm surge as high as 4 feet (1.2 meters) to the shores of New Jersey, New York City and Long Island. Delaware and Connecticut may also see flooding. Gusts as intense as 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour may rake the area as the next system arrives, the weather service said.
Metropolitan New York’s airports led cancellations, with 363 at Newark Liberty, 265 at LaGuardia and 183 at Kennedy at 9 a.m. Eastern time, according to researcher FlightStats.com.
Delta, based in Atlanta, waived rebooking fees for passengers flying to and from the New York-area airports and Philadelphia yesterday through tomorrow.
US Airways offered a similar waiver in the New York City area and Newburgh and White Plains, New York; and New Haven, Connecticut, according to its website. US Airways is “closely monitoring” the situation, said Todd Lehmacher, a spokesman.
JetBlue Airways Corp.’s travel policy covered the New York City-area airports and Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, New York; Washington; Hartford, Connecticut; Richmond, Virginia; Boston; and Burlington, Vermont.
Disruptions from Sandy cost major airlines as much as $45 million each, according to Dan McKenzie, a Buckingham Research Group analyst in New York. That storm lashed the New York region, the biggest aviation market, and shut the area’s three major airports for most of last week.