SAA cancels flights over US storm

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flight schedule Reuters The flight schedule board at LaGuardia Airport in New York yesterday. The north-eastern US is braced for a storm that could bring travel to a halt. Photo: Reuters

Johannesburg - Two

SAA flights between Joburg and New York have been cancelled because of a blizzard in the US, the airline said on Friday.

 

The affected flights were SA203, from Joburg to New York last night, and SA204 from New York to Joburg today.

Other flights to and from New York would continue as scheduled, unless the weather in New York changed on the day of departure.

SAA said SA207 from Joburg to Washington on Friday would take off at 8.30pm instead of 6.15pm, but that other flights to and from Washington would operate on schedule.

SAA said it regretted the inconvenience caused by the cancellations.

“The safety of our passengers and crew is a non-negotiable priority,” it said.

“We will continue to monitor the situation in both New York and Washington, and any new developments regarding the storm and related activities will be communicated.”

Deborah Francis, spokeswoman for Airports Company South Africa in Cape Town, said there were no direct flights from Cape Town International Airport to New York, but that passengers connecting elsewhere here and abroad should check the status of their flights.

“From a local perspective there are no issues. However, passengers who are going to board connecting flights in Johannesburg would need to check with the Johannesburg airport,” she said.

 

The Associated Press reported on Friday that a blizzard of “potentially historic proportions” threatened to strike the north-east of the US.

 

Some schools in the area were closed on Friday, and local airlines cancelled more than 2 600 flights.

Blizzard warnings were posted for parts of New Jersey and New York’s Long Island, and for portions of the New England region, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The warnings extended into New Hampshire and Maine.

Up to 0.6m of snow was forecast along the densely populated corridor from the New York City area to Boston and beyond.

People were stocking up on food and other storm supplies, and road crews along the East Coast readied salt and sand ahead of what forecasters warned could be one for the record books.

 

“This one doesn’t come along every day. This is going to be a dangerous winter storm,” said Alan Dunham, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Massachusetts.

Wind gusts could reach 120km/h. Widespread power failures were feared, along with flooding in coastal areas still recovering from Superstorm Sandy in October.

New York City was expecting up to 355mm of snow. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said ploughs and 250 000 tons of salt were being put on standby.

“We hope forecasts are exaggerating the amount of snow, but you never can tell,” he said.

 

In New England, it could prove to be among the top 10 snowstorms in history, and perhaps even break Boston’s record of 700mm set in 2003, forecasters said. The storm is arriving just after the 35th anniversary of the blizzard of 1978, which paralysed New England with more than 0.6m of snow and hurricane-force winds.

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