Saturday, April 21, 2018

Shutdown at Los Angeles airport causes flight delays

Thousands of fliers across the United States were delayed Friday after the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport closed parts of the airport.

The prolonged shutdown at the nation's third-largest airport was particularly troublesome for those hoping to head to the East Coast or across the Pacific Ocean.

Flights bound for Los Angeles that had not yet taken off were held at their gates for hours by the Federal Aviation Administration. Nearly 200 flights were cancelled. Some flights already in the air were allowed to land at LAX, while others were diverted to nearby airports.

Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, which operates the Los Angeles airport, said at a midday news conference that planes were landing at the airport at "less than half the normal arrival rate."

Even though the airport never fully closed, travelers trying to fly out were unable to reach it because of massive road closures.

Lindsey said it would take "quite a deal of time" to get airport operations back to normal. She said it will be a "carefully orchestrated logistical ballet."

Los Angles is a major gateway for flights to Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Domestically, the largest cities served are San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, San Jose, Calif., San Diego and Phoenix. However, it is not a major connection point, such as Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Minneapolis.

The shooting had a minimal impact on Tampa International Airport's operations, spokeswoman Janet Zink said. One Delta flight from Los Angeles was delayed for about three hours Friday evening, Zink said, and both Tampa International Airport police and the Transportation Security Administration had more officers and agents in the terminal Friday.

Most airlines issued waivers for people traveling through Los Angeles, letting them change flights without paying a fee.

JetBlue diverted flights from Boston, New York and Fort Lauderdale to nearby Long Beach airport. Southwest diverted at least one flight — a trip from Chicago that landed in Denver.

Times staff writer Will Hobson contributed to this report.

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