US carriers brace for hurricane triple whammy

September 11, 2018
hurricane airlines triple whammy
Hurricane Florence from space. Photo: NASA

US carriers may be facing a weather triple whammy as three hurricanes threaten operations, including a powerful storm headed for the US mainland and described as “life-threatening”.

More than 1 million coastal residents are already fleeing Hurricane Florence after it prompted mandatory evacuation orders affecting the US states of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

It was twice updated on Monday to category 4 with winds gusting up to 140mph with potential landfall in the Carolinas Thursday or Friday.

Weather models predict the hurricane will unleash a torrent of rain as well as damaging winds.

There are worries it could approach Category 5, the highest, by the time it makes landfall.

But airlines are also keeping a wary eye on two other Hurricanes: Olivia, as it heads towards Hawaii and Isaac, which tracking towards the Lesser Antilles.

Hurricane triple whammy
The three hurricanes currently threatening the US mainland, Hawaii and the Lesser Antilles. Image: Google Crisis Response.

American Airlines said it was in regular communication with the American Red Cross and stood ready to activate its disaster response platform.

It was also allowing affected customers to rebook without change fees.

“Storms like these may require customers to change their travel plans and as a result, American has issued a travel alert for more than 30 airports, including our Charlotte, N.C., hub,’’ the airline said.

“American has not canceled any flights at this time, however, we will continue to keep updated with the latest operational information.

“The American Integrated Operations Center (IOC) in Fort Worth, Texas, continues to closely monitor the track of these storms, and is closely coordinating with the National Weather Service, Federal Aviation Administration, and local airports.”

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United Airlines and Delta Air Lines also have issued change fee waivers for travel within some US states and to Hawaii because of the storms.

Southwest Airlines also allowed rebooking on cities affected by Hurricane Florence and for Hurricane Isaac on flights to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The US threat comes after Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan, was flooded by Typhoon Jebi last week and is progressively reopening operations.

An airport alert for travel to September 13 says it is operating from Terminal 2, with Terminal 1 yet to re-open.

It said that flights operated by Peach Aviation, Spring Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines would operate during this period.

Overseas carriers servicing Osaka have been affected and have travel alerts on their websites.

Australia’s Jetstar, which canceled international and domestic Jetstar Japan flights to Kansai until at least September 13,  said:  “Whilst some services have resumed from Terminal 2, Terminal 1 remains closed and we are closely monitoring the situation and are working closely with the airport to determine when the terminal will be open.

“Our aim is to resume our scheduled flights as soon as it is safe for us to do so.”