Flights from Hong Kong to New York were set to resume on Saturday after a deadly winter storm battered the east coast of the United States and Canada over the past couple of days and resulted in travel cancellations, delays and diversions.
With the worst of the storm easing on Friday, airports across the American seaboard gradually reopened.
Up to 5,000 people on flights to and from Hong Kong to New York and Boston were affected, based on the number of seats offered on the routes. The disruptions had a knock-on effect for airports elsewhere in the US and Canada on Thursday and Friday.
The “bomb cyclone” – as the deadly storm was called – was forecast to bring hurricane-force winds, as much as 46cm of snow in several states and wind chills as brutal as minus 40 degrees Celsius this weekend. It forced the closure of schools and offices as well as grounding thousands of flights and halting ground transport systems. At least five people have been reported dead so far.
The flight-tracking site FlightAware reported nearly 5,000 cancelled flights across the US. They included more than two thirds of flights in and out of New York City and Boston airports.
On its website, Cathay Pacific Airways warned of disruption. Hong Kong’s flagship carrier operates 12 daily flights to and from the city to Boston and New York’s John F Kennedy and Newark airports as well as from Vancouver.
“We are experiencing disruptions to flight departures and arrivals in Boston, New York (JFK) and New York – Newark (EWR) from Thursday, 4 January 2018 to Saturday, 6 January 2018,” the airline said, as it cancelled, diverted or delayed 19 flights in total.
Flights on Friday from Hong Kong to Kennedy airport were scrapped due to the weather. Cathay Pacific delayed or cancelled nine flights on Thursday as the winter storm started to take hold. Flights were also diverted to Chicago, Vancouver and Toronto.
In Europe, various airlines kept flying to New York. However, with airports still closed and the weather affecting large portions of the US east coast and Canada, planes were sent back across the Atlantic Ocean or diverted hundreds of miles off course.
Cathay Pacific’s social media team spent the day trying to appease a large number of disgruntled passengers.
Andy Parkinson, slated to fly on Cathay Pacific from Newark on Friday, tweeted that the airline had “really screwed up”.
“Turned up at the airport and the [departure] boards were still showing the flight. Email updates as we drove up to EWR [Newark] were all showing flight was on time. Was expecting delays and [had] been checking all day, lots of other CX [Cathay Pacific] flights cancelled but ours showed OK.
“One very tired upset 8 y.o. his Grandad kindly drove us to the airport and back, now have to do it all again (tomorrow maybe?),” he added. “Could have told us to stay home in time.”