More than 5,000 flights can­celed at three main air­ports in New York

The Pak Banker - - 6i Nternational -

NEW YORK: Snow plows churned through the night, snack bars stayed open late and clean­ing crews scrubbed round-the-clock to keep the ter­mi­nals clean as New York's air­ports strug­gled to clear a huge back­log of flights that has stranded thou­sands of pas­sen­gers across the United States.

Jet­ways were packed at New York's Kennedy air­port, where at least three air­lin­ers - two Cathay Pa­cific planes and a Bri­tish Air­ways plane - were stuck for more than seven hours on Tues­day while they waited for an open gate.

On Tues­day night the air­port re­mained filled with pas­sen­gers on cell phones and lap­tops, try­ing to re­book flights, make ho­tel reser­va­tions or fig­ure out al­ter­nate plans. Lines at coun­ters for rental cars, ground trans­porta­tion and lost lug­gage re­mained long through­out the day.

More than 5,000 flights were can­celed at the three main air­ports in New York - 1,000 on Tues­day alone.

But the bliz­zard that hit the north­east on Sun­day crip­pled more than just air travel. Streets across New York re­mained un­plowed, 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 from the in­ter­states.

Air­lines were dis­patch­ing planes to JFK with­out lin­ing up gate space first, caus­ing back­ups on the ground, said Steve Cole­man, a spokesman for the Port Author­ity of New York and New Jersey, which op­er­ates the air­port.

Gigi God­frey of Belize, spent 10 hours trapped in a Cathay Pa­cific plane un­til the flight was fi­nally able to de­plane on Tues­day.

"It was so frus­trat­ing, just sit­ting there for hours, wait­ing for more bad news," the 24year-old God­frey said. She was pass­ing through New York af­ter spend­ing Christ­mas in Thai­land and couldn't re­mem­ber when she had first boarded a plane.

"I am so tired I don't even know what day yes­ter­day is," she said. Cathay Pa­cific spokesman Gus Whitcomb said the planes had taken off un­der the as­sump­tion that they would have some­where to go upon land­ing. U.S. air­lines op­er­at­ing do­mes­tic flights are not al­lowed to keep pas­sen­gers wait­ing on the tar­mac for more than three hours, but in­ter­na­tional flights and for­eign air­lines are ex­empt from the rule.

At JFK's Ter­mi­nal 7, ex­hausted would-be trav­el­ers 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 air­plane seats.

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

Pe­dro Acero, a man­ager at ABM clean­ing ser­vices, said he nor­mally ran three shifts a day at the ter­mi­nal, with 20 clean­ers per shift.

He had fi­nally been able to bring more staffers in Tues­day, to re­lieve the orig­i­nal pre-storm shift of 20 peo­ple. They had been work­ing non­stop since Sun­day to keep bath­rooms, floors and walk­ways clean de­spite the huge vol­ume of peo­ple sleep­ing in the air­port, track­ing ice and snow in on slip­pery floors, and us­ing the bath­rooms. -Ap

NEW JERSEY: Work­ers clear snow from run­ways at Ne­wark Lib­erty In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Ne­wark. -Ap

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