New York battles flights backlog


Kevin Fagan, from San Francisco, talks on his phone while a British Airways plane sits motionless on the runway at JFK Airport in New York

New York’s airports have struggled to clear a huge backlog of flights that stranded thousands of passengers across the United States.

More than 5,000 flights were cancelled at the three main airports on Tuesday alone.

But the blizzard that hit the north-east on Sunday crippled more than just air travel.

Streets across New York remained unploughed, with hundreds of buses and dozens of ambulances stuck in the snowdrifts.

Subway lines and commuter trains were running slower because of signal problems and short-circuits caused by the snow. In New Jersey, tow trucks worked to clear abandoned cars.

Airlines were dispatching planes to JFK without lining up gate space first, causing backups on the ground, said operator the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

At JFK’s Terminal 7, exhausted would-be travellers trapped in the airport for hours – or in some cases days – had removed the rope barriers from around a British Airways advertising display touting “new, “roomier business class seats” and were sleeping, stretched out or slumped over, in the model plane seats.

Airport staff said a small Starbucks counter that was closed on Tuesday had yet to reopen after running out of supplies on Sunday. The one remaining vendor, a Subway sandwich shop, had huge queues throughout the day.

“It’s a bad situation and we’re working together to correct it,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. Around 1,000 vehicles had been removed from three major New York City-area expressways alone, the mayor said.

On the other side of the Hudson River, Newark Mayor Cory Booker personally helped some residents dig out their cars and was using Twitter to respond to others seeking help.

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