Airlines cancel hundreds of flights as Hurricane Ian advances

Hurricane Ian has driven airlines to cancel hundreds of flights to and from Florida on Wednesday and Thursday.

Tampa International Airport suspended all operations starting Tuesday at 5 p.m. to secure jet bridges, ground equipment and aircraft in advance of the storm, and said it planned to assess damage as soon as it is safe to do so. Nearly 150 flights in and out of Tampa were canceled Tuesday, according to FlightAware.com.

On Wednesday, airlines canceled hundreds more flights in and out of multiple airports in Florida, including Orlando, Miami, Tampa, Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale, FlightAware data show. Orlando International Airport is suspending operations at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. The flight cancellations at Florida airports continue into Thursday.

The Florida flight cancellations include some flights in and out of Atlanta, with more than 100 flights canceled at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Wednesday, according to FlightAware.

Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Andrew Gobeil said the airport is working with airlines to prepare for passengers whose flights are canceled. If passengers are forced to stay in the airport overnight, he said the airport will have at least one concessionaire open on every concourse to serve them, and the airport’s guest services team is staffed around the clock to help if needed.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines said it halted operations at Tampa, Sarasota and Fort Myers airports on Tuesday evening as it moved aircraft and crew out of Hurricane Ian’s path. Delta also suspended flights in Orlando on Wednesday and in Key West. It said it would resume flights at the Florida airports when conditions allow.

Hartsfield-Jackson had four planes parked on one of its taxiways as of Thursday morning, and said it had room for more if needed.

For Atlanta, looking toward the end of the week with the storm jogging to the east, Gobeil said it is expected to bring some rain and wind at Hartsfield-Jackson, “but nothing more than a typical summer storm.”

Delta and other carriers are allowing more flexibility to change travel plans for travelers with flights booked to and from a number of airports in Georgia and Florida, warning their flights could also be disrupted by wind and other conditions due to Hurricane Ian.

Delta is allowing customers who have flights booked to, from or through Brunswick, Columbus, Valdosta and Savannah, Georgia; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; Daytona Beach, Panama City, Key West, Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami, Melbourne, West Palm Beach, Pensacola, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Tampa and Fort Walton Beach, Florida Sept. 27-30 to rebook those flights by Oct. 3 without paying a difference in fare.

Delta also said it is contributing $250,000 to the Red Cross for Hurricane Ian relief.

Dallas-based Southwest, the second-largest carrier at Hartsfield-Jackson, is allowing customers scheduled to travel to, from or through Destin, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Havana, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Panama City, Sarasota, Tampa and West Palm Beach Sept. 25-Oct. 2 to change their flights without paying an additional charge. Southwest is also offering rebooking flexibility for passengers scheduled to travel to, from or through Savannah and Charleston, South Carolina.