There was no escaping travel impacts of the Blizzard of ’14.
The local blizzard wasn’t just throwing a monkey wrench into ground travel, as dozens of flights were canceled Monday at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, despite the fact that the airport officially remained open.
“The runways are open,” said C. Douglas Hartmayer, NFTA spokesman, late Monday. “The airlines have taken pre-emptive measures at this time and canceled some flights.”
The polar vortex storm that was blitzing the Midwest as well as the Northeast was responsible for many of the cancellations, however. Hartmayer said air carriers were making strategic decisions Monday to make sure they didn’t have aircraft stuck in Buffalo given the deteriorating conditions here.
“This allows them to maximize their service,” Hartmayer said.
Any determination to close airport runways, Hartmayer said, are made chiefly on the grounds of braking conditions and runway traction, and to a lesser extent, visibility.
“When it becomes unsafe for the planes to land or depart,” runways are closed.
As of Monday night, all still remained well on the runways, not necessarily with flights.
As of 9:30 p.m., only four out of 20 scheduled arrivals on the board were expected to make it to the airport in Cheektowaga. The others were either cancelled or diverted. Of 10 departures, only a 2:50 p.m. scheduled Delta flight departed. That, at 8:56 p.m.
A U.S. Airways flight to Charlotte, N.C., was still scheduled to leave at 10:30 p.m. Seven others were cancelled.
Whether conditions on the runways change today remained to be seen, Hartmayer admitted.
“It depends on what happens,” Hartmayer said. “Safety is your Number One factor.”
Monday’s cancellations included flights to and from warm-weather destinations such as Tampa and Orlando, part of pre-emptive decisions made by the airlines to leave their network of planes well positioned for the catch-up travel period after the storm passes, Hartmayer said.
Cancellation data from the FlightStats website shows that cancellations piled up Monday as the day went on.
Anyone traveling, or planning to pick up a traveler from Buffalo Niagara International Airport, is urged to view the flight schedule at www.buffaloairport.com.