- IATA/ICAO Code:
- United States
- Ralph Cutié
- Passenger Count :
- 37,302,456 (2021)
- Runways :
- 8L/26R – 2,621m (8,600ft) |8R/26L – 3,202m (10,505ft) |9/27 – 3,967m (13,015ft) |12/30 – 2,853m (9,360ft)
- North Terminal |Central Terminal |South Terminal
Florida has been undergoing urgent evacuations and necessary preparations for Hurricane Ian. The massive storm is forecasted to turn from a category 2 to a category 4 storm by Tuesday, with sustained winds of up to 100 miles an hour. With such dangerous weather, travel disruptions are inevitable, but will it impact air travel?
Flight disruptions across Florida
It has been forecasted that Florida could start feeling Hurricane Ian’s wrath as early as Tuesday with the possibility of tornadoes and isolated damaging thunderstorms. The hurricane potentially makes landfall on the state by Wednesday as its wind speeds might reach over 111 miles an hour.
Unfortunately, it is also during this time of the year when it’s highly popular to travel to the Sunshine State. Still, given the circumstances, airlines have had to carry out cancelations to avoid flying in such threatening weather conditions. Several airlines have issued storm waivers this week until at least September 30th, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest Airlines, and Spirit Airlines.
The waivers accounted for more than a dozen airports across Florida on both the east and west coasts, such as Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Miami, West Palm Beach, Tampa, and Fort Walton Beach, to name a few. Several aircraft have been moved from Florida to other hubs such as Atlanta and Charlotte to protect the fleet. And some airlines have also allowed passengers with typically unchangeable tickets to alter their itineraries to avoid altogether or quickly leave the unsafe zones.
Affected passengers should note that each airline has its limit on when flight changes can be made and when a new trip has to be booked before charges are implemented. Photo: Getty Images
Airports remain open…for now
Airports across Florida have also been preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Ian. While Tampa International Airport was operating normally as of Monday, the airport anticipates parts of the airfield and facilities might be shut down from Tuesday to Wednesday. Though the airport is in an evacuation zone because of its considered critical infrastructure, it is still exempt from the storm evacuation order and will stay open unless the closure is truly necessary.
In fact, and at this time of writing, all major airports in Florida are still open and operating as usual, albeit some might close for a bit on Tuesday. One confirmed partial closure is St Petersburg Airport, which will close from 13:00 on Tuesday. Orlando International Airport’s Emergency Operations Center is also ready and prepared to activate at a modified level before a potential full-scale activation on Wednesday.
Similarly, Melbourne Orlando International Airport will only make a final decision for closure once the storm hits Florida and has announced it will notify passengers immediately if that happens. And for its part, Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport say they will remain open since it is not within the cone of concern, but they are closely monitoring the storm as with every other airport. Communications director at Miami Airport, Greg Chin, said:
“South Florida is outside of the cone, so as far as we’re concerned, we don’t expect this to turn into a wholesale cancelation of flights.”
Hurricane Ian is just the latest storm to emerge from the Atlantic after Hurricane Fiona caused severe damage to Puerto Rico and other Caribbean Islands last week. With the rapid strengthening of Hurricane Ian, even travelers outside of the cone of concern should remain vigilant as the airports may not shut down entirely, but they will feel a ripple effect of cancellations, and lengthy flight delays from places hit harder by the storm.