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Airlines continue to cancel flights at Hartsfield-Jackson

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport experienced an

increase in flight operations on Tuesday, but winter weather conditions continued to cause flight cancellations.

Delta Air Lines planned a reduced schedule in Atlanta, which lasted through the afternoon, according to Delta officials. The airline cancelled more than 1,700

flights for Delta and Delta Connections, systemwide, due to the snowy-icy conditions in metro Atlanta, they said.

"This is approximately 25 percent of the airline's systemwide flights

today," officials added.

Delta, they said, also plans to operate a reduced schedule through the morning, on Wednesday, until icy conditions improve. They said the airline cancelled about 2,050 Delta and Delta Connection flights, on Monday, that were to arrive or depart at Hartsfield-Jackson. The winter storm is expected to head to the

Northeast, and customers traveling through Atlanta's airport on Thursday, to,

or from cities in the Northeast, are encouraged to change their itineraries to avoid the winter storm, officials said.

"All customers traveling via impacted airports should check their

flight status at delta.com, before traveling, and are encouraged to move

their flights ahead of, or after, the storm, if possible," they said. "Delta is offering assistance to customers traveling in impacted areas to allow flight changes without fees."

Passengers are also entitled to a refund, if their flight is significantly delayed, or cancelled, during these dates, they said. Eligible flights include those on Delta, Delta Connection and Delta coded flights, said officials. The select cities include: Philadelphia,Pa., Hartford, Conn., and New York, N.Y.

For more information, Delta passengers should visit the airlines' web

site, at www.delta.com.

Meanwhile, AirTran Airways had 240 cancellations of arriving or departing flights at Hartsfield-Jackson on Tuesday, said Quinnie Jenkins, spokeswoman for AirTran. She said she did not have the number of delays the low-cost carrier had on Tuesday, or the number of customers who were affected by the cancellations.

"We are slowly resuming operations today," she said, adding that what has kept operations at a slow pace is the de-icing process of the aircraft, and clearing ramp areas of ice and snow.

Jenkins said the airline extended the re-booking options, on Tuesday,

for customers traveling to, from, or through Atlanta. Passengers

eligible must be scheduled to travel through Atlanta on Thursday, Jan. 13.

Passengers may change their flights without penalty, according to Jenkins. This will be based on space availability, without fees or fare adjustments, she said.

For questions about the status of flights, or for flight changes, call

1-800-247-8726, or visit, www.airtran.com, she said.

Jenkins said AirTran made 2,400 "proactive calls" to customers, warning them about the winter weather and their options, on Saturday, Jan. 8.

According to Jenkins, the airline continues to work with

Hartsfield-Jackson, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines, said American experienced about 30 flight cancellations at Hartsfield-Jackson on Tuesday. The

airlines' hub is not located in Atlanta, which explains the low number

of cancellations, compared to AirTran and Delta, he explained. Two-thirds of the airline's flights did not arrive or depart Hartsfield-Jackson on Tuesday, according to Smith.

"In general, winter weather means you are not going to operate a full

schedule that you would normally operate," he said. American Airlines is "attempting to operate 10 departures," Smith said.

He said the airline is able to offer hotels at a discount price to passengers who had to stay overnight at Atlanta's airport.

Kathleen Bergen, of the FAA, said the winter weather significantly affected operations on Tuesday. Air traffic controllers, she said, worked 40 to 50 flights per hour, instead of the average 3,000 flights per 24 hours.

"The traffic count for [Hartsfield-Jackson] yesterday was 293," she said. "The

average traffic count for a Monday last year was 2,692. We only saw 11

[percent] of our normal traffic yesterday," she added.

Hartsfield-Jackson Spokesman Albert Snedeker said there weren't any "stranded" passengers on Tuesday, but some chose to stay overnight. The airport accommodated them, by providing them with blankets and kits that contained toiletry items, he added.

The airport continued to keep ice off a variety of areas, including runways, taxiways, emergency routes, roadways and parking lots, he said. "That is going very well," he added.

Motorists were unable to get to Hartsfield-Jackson from I-285 for quite some time on Tuesday. All ramps and exits on Interstate 285 were closed, said Capt. Tina Daniel, of the Clayton County Police Department, "because we were trying to get all of the vehicles off of the freeway, so the [Georgia Department of Transportation] could address the salt and gravel on it," she said. She said access re-opened at about 4 p.m.