Northeast Airports Digging Out From Blizzard

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Things are looking up at the three major New York airports as "airplanes are actually starting to move," American Airlines spokesman Ed Martelle tells AOL Travel News. The airports were shutdown and thousands of flights canceled as the result of the blizzard that roared through the Northeast Sunday and Monday.

But there is still a lot of digging out to do and operations may not be back to normal for days.

The huge job of getting tens of thousands of passengers -- whose flights were canceled due to the giant snowstorm over the Christmas holiday -- to their destinations could take up to five days and will probably last through the New Year holiday, JetBlue spokesman Mateo Lleras says.

"We have two days' worth of passengers who need to be re-accommodated," Lieras says, but the airline does not have two days' worth of spare aircraft.

And while airports may be open, they are not at full capacity.

"The runways are clear, but there are still some taxiways and gateways that have to be cleared," Lleras says.

Of New York, Martelle says, "It's a crowdy, busy place." He says operations today at all three airports remain "hindered," with delays of up to five hours and a greatly reduced number of takeoffs and landings per hour.

The airlines are also dealing with the same issues that passengers are facing in getting to and from the airports.

Employees may be stuck in their homes on unplowed side streets or marooned on buses and trains that can't move, Martelle says.

American is trying to bring in spare aircraft, but the carrier also must contend with flight crews that have "timed out" -- worked as long as rules and laws allow them to -- and find replacements, in many cases bbringing them back from holiday vacations," he adds.

Photo, Associated Press
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