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Hundreds of Trinidadians living in the United States and other tourists seeking to come to T&T for the start of major Carnival festivites were left stranded yesterday, after a major snowstorm forced the cancellation of international flights at the JFK International Airport in New York. Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flight and others destined for T&T were affected as the storm slammed into the north-eastern seaboard of the US.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency yesterday afternoon because of the storm, named Nemo. The extreme weather conditions were expected to last until today and the forecast was for up to 20 inches of snow in the New York City region with wind gusts that could exceed 60 miles per hour, according to meteorologists at the US National Weather Service.
The storm began to unfold across the north-eastern US with blizzard conditions yesterday morning. Blizzard warnings were in effect for much of the coastal parts of the northeast from Newark in New Jersey and New York City to the Canadian border. CAL issued a flight advisory on Thursday evening because of the looming storm, as flights into and out of JFK Airport were cancelled. CAL communications manager Clint Williams yesterday said, “The storm came on at the worst time for Carnival lovers.
It is a peak period in the next few days and it is our duty to ensure that everyone gets h ere sa fe ly.” Three flights—BW010, BW501 and BW521, including one to Montego Bay in Jamaica—were still able to depart from JFK yesterday morning. “We were able to depart before the weather deteriorated.”
However, he added, “We can’t fly out of JFK now. The weather is expected to maintain and sustain until noon on Saturday. We are in close communication with FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) as to when the airport will reopen to resume flights.” CAL is working on providing additional flights when the weather permits
“We have been in contact with aircraft suppliers of leased aircrafts to begin planning a possible increase in airlifts when we are able to fly,” said Williams. However, he warned, “We would still depend on JFK authorities when flights would be granted. There are thousands of flights that leave JFK and a lot of people would like to pick up disrupted passengers.
“We are getting every update so we will have a more accurate update and and fly early afternoon...We won’t know until tomorrow,” he said. Williams said the airline had a travel guarantee policy and details would be posted on CAL’s Web site and on its Facebook page. In the meantime, there has not been any disruption in service at Piarco International Airport, despite protest action taken by Immigration officers.
The officers have been staying away from work since Tuesday in protest of the non-payment of travel allowances, but Airport Authority communications manager, Zola Joseph, said things were proceeding normally despite this. “At this time there is no issue with immigration. They had ongoing issues but it has been resolved and things are flowing smoothly at this time,” Joseph said.