An Arik Air plane
By Chinedu Eze, with agency report
Nigeria’s major carrier, Arik Air, has cancelled its flights to New York following a directive that no flights should go to one of the US busiest cities due to Hurricane Sandy that would hit the city.
Thousands of flights in and out of New York and other US east-coast destinations have also been cancelled ahead of the hurricane that was expected to hit the city Monday.
British Airways (BA), Virgin Atlantic, Emirates and Etihad Airways were among the airlines that cancelled their flights to and from east-coast airports in the wake of a major storm which was expected to bring strong winds, flash flooding and heavy snowfall.
All of BA’s New York flights were cancelled yesterday and the British carrier has confirmed that it would cancel flights to and from New York, Baltimore, Washington, Boston and Philadelphia today and has advised affected passengers not to travel to airports.
“Hurricane Sandy is causing disruption, flight delays and cancellations throughout the Eastern Seaboard of the USA. We understand that customers may be disappointed; however their safety is our highest priority. We are offering the option to re-book or receive a refund to those customers whose flights are cancelled,” BA said in a statement on its website.
Virgin Atlantic flights to and from New York, Washington and Boston yesterday were cancelled; the same with Emirates flights scheduled to leave New York for Dubai on Sunday in addition to a flight scheduled from Dubai to New York on Monday morning.
Meanwhile, Etihad Airways Monday cancelled two flights between Abu Dhabi and New York.
The port authorities of New York and New Jersey were making preparations in advance of the anticipated landfall of a significant coastal storm and travellers were being urged to contact their airlines before travelling to the airport to learn about potential delays and cancellations.
All maritime facilities in New York and New Jersey closed in the midnight of Monday and the terminals were closed until further notice.
The port terminals that were closed include Port Newark Container Terminal, Port Elizabeth Marine Terminal, Port Jersey Marine Terminal, Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island and the Brooklyn-Port Authority Marine Terminal.
The hurricane was anticipated to bring a near-record storm surge of six to 11 feet to the New York Harbour, which is five feet above the storm surge from Hurricane Irene.
Michael Bloomberg, New York mayor, had ordered the evacuation of low-lying areas of New York City which are home to 375,000 people.