Hurricane Sandy’s Fury Forces Local Airport to Cancel Flights

Even though Arkansas is not in Hurricane Sandy’s path, flights into and out of Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Benton County are being canceled.

Kelly Johnson, airport director, said local officials Monday were looked at flights to and from New York and Washington, D.C. She said those direct flights have been canceled.

The leading edge of Hurricane Sandy has already brought heavy rain and strong winds to the Eastern Seaboard, making flights to those places impossible, officials said. 

“Normally what the airline will do is try to route them around another way to get to where they`re headed, but if you`re just headed to the Northeast you`re really pretty well stuck,” Johnson said.

Canceled flights are hindering passengers waiting for flights to destinations besides the Northeast.

Jay Jani spent Monday at the local airport looking for alternate routes home to India.

“Yeah, I am frustrated,” he said. “I am frustrated because I have to leave at any cost today so I am searching for the flight, and I have been here since this morning at 10:30 and I am looking for a flight still to India.”

The airport is expecting cancellations again Tuesday.

“A lot of times what they`ll do is preemptively cancel these flights so that people don`t go to the airport and wait around just because they think there might be a chance, so they`ll go ahead and cancel the flights for the entire next day with forecasted weather,” Johnson said.

A United Airlines employee told Jani it could take days for him to get home.

“It`s important to me because I have to finish some stuff there and do some work that`s pending there so, yeah, I want to go as soon as possible,” Jani said.

Airport officials recommend all passengers check the status of their flight before heading to the airport.

“It`s important to remember, if they are canceling these flights, it`s done for a reason. Iit`s done for the public`s safety,” Johnson said.