Hurricane Irma: When will airports reopen? What we know about damage

Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday as it made its way inland. Statewide, the storm knocked out power to more than 6.2 million homes and businesses and was blamed on at least six deaths, including a law enforcement officer. What’s the status of Florida airports? Miami International says it is assessing water damage and that no passenger flights are scheduled for Monday. Fort Lauderdale airport is also closed Monday but says it anticipates opening at 4 a.m. Tuesday. Orlando International is closed Monday. Travelers are urged to contact airlines and to confirm seats and flight times before arriving at any Florida airports. More than 3,800 U.S. flights scheduled for Monday were canceled by late morning — and more than 9,000 since Saturday — according to tracking service FlightAware. Disruptions have spread beyond Florida. Delta Air Lines is canceling 900 flights Monday, including many at its Atlanta hub because of high winds. American is canceling 300 flights in Charlotte, North Carolina, due to wind. Twins spring training location The CenturyLink Sports Complex and Hammond Field in Fort Myers sustained some damage from the storm. Dugouts are flooded and trees fell around the complex. Ben Hemmen, Fort Myers Miracle COO, told the News-Press that the team is offering the stadium complex as a staging area for the recovery efforts. Here’s a survey of other damage around the state. Florida Keys Buildings were knocked loose from their foundations and boats were tossed onto high ground. Coral Gables Downed trees and power lines made movement difficult and hazardous. Jacksonville Police evacuated homes rescuing more than 3 dozen people from the surging sea. Tampa The city dodged a direct hit and was dealing with a storm surge and floating debris. Naples The city got socked with a foot of rain and a 7-foot storm surge. Drone footage posted on Youtube showed widespread flooding, structural damage and missing rooftops. Fort Meyers Continue Reading

Bomb cyclone flight cancellations ease up at Southwest Florida International Airport

Flight cancellations and delays at Southwest Florida International Airport  have eased-up considerably, as residents of the U.S. East Coast deal with the aftermath of a brutal winter storm called the “bomb cyclone.”As of 10 a.m. Friday, the online FlightAware tracking service showed 22 cancellations scheduled throughout the day at RSW.The Fort Myers airport reported 68 flight cancellations on Thursday. More: 'Bomb Cyclone' leads to flights canceled, delayed at Southwest Florida International Airport More: More shelter space available in Lee County due to cold weather More: Red tide will likely weather cold front More: National Weather Service records show it has never snowed in Fort Myers and Naples On Friday, affected arrivals included Atlantic City, Newark and Boston.Canceled departures flights affected many of the same cities, but also New York-JFK and Philadelphia.A 4:40 p.m. Spirit flight to Detroit was pushed back by about an hour.More cancellations are possible. Check with your specific airline if you have flight plans Friday or over the next few days. Connect with this reporter on Twitter @Alvascribe. Continue Reading

Number of arriving, departing flights canceled at Southwest Florida International Airport

A number of arriving and departing flights have been canceled at Southwest Florida International Airport due to a severe winter storm in the northern United States.As of 9:30 a.m. Thusday, flights arriving from Atlantic City, Boston, Islip, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Newark, New Jersey, and other locations were canceled by jetBlue, Spirit, Frontier, Delta, American Airlines and United.Departures to Boston, Philadelphia, Hartford, Connecticut, Islip, Newark and New York were also canceled.Check with your specific airline if you have flight plans Thursday or in the next few days.The massive winter storm was expected to sweep across a huge swath of the U.S., from the Carolinas to Maine and dump up to 18 inches of snow in some areas with strong winds and possible record-breaking cold.Blizzard warnings and states of emergency were in effect, schools and government offices closed for the day and motorists were warned to be careful as conditions worsened. Connect with this reporter: MichaelBraunNP (Facebook) @MichaelBraunNP (Twitter) More: Video: Snow in Florida? More: National Weather Service records show it has never snowed in Fort Myers and Naples More: It's so cold in Florida someone is skiing   Continue Reading

Gunman kills 5 at Fort Lauderdale airport shooting, shooter in custody

A shooter opened fire at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida earlier on Friday, killing five people and wounding multiple others, law enforcement officials said. The shooter was in custody — unharmed and under interrogation — the Broward County Sheriff's office said, but the situation remained "fluid and active." Multiple law enforcement sources identified the suspect as New Jersey–born Esteban Santiago, 26, and said he had a military ID on him at the time of his capture. All flights were grounded and additional areas of the airport were being evacuated and cleared. The motive for the attack, which started shortly before 1 p.m., was not known, according to law enforcement officials. Florida Gov. Rick Scott held a news conference with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel shortly after 5:15 p.m. ET. He reconfirmed the death toll of five people and said he learned about the incident earlier while he was in Fort Myers. The governor said he reached out to President-elect Donald Trump to update him and Vice President-elect Mike Pence as the situation unfolded. Gov. Scott said he and President Barack Obama have not reached to each other. Vice President-elect Pence spoke to reporters outside of Trump Tower in Manhattan around 5:50 p.m., ET, saying the shooting was a "heartbreaking loss of life" and "the hearts of every American are in Fort Lauderdale tonight." Pence also briefly remarked on the "constructive and respectful dialogue" he and Trump had with the leaders of intelligence community during their briefing earlier Friday. In an earlier news Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma: Here’s when Florida’s airports are reopening (list)

  Nearly all of Florida’s busiest airports east of the state's "Panhandle" halted flights during Hurricane Irma. Now, those airports have begun what's expected to be a slow restart of commercial airline service. Scroll down for the latest status on the resumption of flights at Florida airports hit by Irma. Included are links to the airport websites and (where available) Twitter accounts to check for late-breaking updates.NATIONAL FLIGHT UPDATE: Irma: Florida airports start slow reboot; cancellations now at 14,000 and counting Daytona Beach (DAB) The airport says no flights are expected on Tuesday, Sept. 12. It was not immediately clear if flights could resume on Wednesday. Twitter: @FlyDAB Destin-Fort Walton Beach The airport did not halt flights during Irma. Twitter: @FlyVPS  Key West (EYW) Delta hoped to resume flights on Thursday and American on Friday. But those flights were pending further damage assessment there. Fort Lauderdale (FLL) The airport said it expected to resume commercial operations at 4 a.m. Tuesday. However, any restart by airlines on Tuesday would likely be limited. Twitter: @FLLFlyer Fort Myers (RSW) No flights were expected to operate Tuesday. "Unfortunately, we cannot begin operations until commercial power is restored," the airport said Monday on its Facebook page. "We are working with our airlines and TSA to get staffing levels to where they need to be." Gainesville (GNV) The terminal will reopen Tuesday morning. Some flights are expected to resume after 9 a.m. Twitter: @GNVAirport Jacksonville (JAX) The airport says it will reopen Tuesday, saying it expected flight operations "to gradually ramp." Still, fliers should expected a limited schedule Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. Twitter: @JAXairport  Melbourne (MLB) The airport terminal was to reopen Tuesday at 8 a.m. A limited flight schedule was likely, with Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma: Restaurants open and serving in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples

This story published Tuesday. For Wednesday's restaurant update CLICK HERE Scroll down for a list of restaurant re-openings. If Hurricane Irma has taught us anything, it's that we are REALLY poor planners (or that we tire of hurricane rations pretty quickly). On Monday, mere hours after the massive storm raked across the Gulf Coast, on a day when most of us should have been eating peanut butter sandwiches and sipping from stashes of bottled water, hundreds if not thousands of us instead packed into the few area restaurants lucky enough to have power and clean water. "We are getting crushed right now," Shannon Yates, the owner of Nevermind in Cape Coral said Monday evening. "I'm just thankful I didn't lose it all."At Chinatown in North Fort Myers, a line of customers snaked out the door and down the plaza Monday afternoon. At China Xpress near downtown Fort Myers, crowds packed the small takeout joint late into Monday night. As power and water return across Southwest Florida, more and more restaurants will be reopening. Here's a look at some of the restaurants ready to serve.  Please note that several restaurants are currently cash only due to power and internet constraints. Hours and menu availability are subject to change.  Is your restaurant open or opening soon and not listed? Send details to [email protected] with “Irma reopening” in the subject line.Fort Myers areaLee Roy Selmon's: The store is currently cooking up all of its inventory of food and giving it away to the public. (5056 Daniels Parkway, south Fort Myers; 690-3287; Bagel Factory: Employees of this family-owned bagel shop spent Monday making fresh dough. The store will open at 6 a.m. Tuesday. (8841 College Parkway, south Fort Myers;  433-2245; Ice Cream Fort Myers and Tickled Taco: Open today regular hours. (2215-K Winkler Ave., Fort Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma aftermath: First flights to RSW airport in Fort Myers might resume tonight

For more coverage of Hurricane Irma and the storm's aftermath visit: Southwest Florida International Airport weathered Hurricane Irma well, and is cleared for takeoffs and landings.Delta aims to be the first airline back, with three flights Tuesday night, and a full local schedule on Wednesday.And, airport leaders expect most of the big carriers to follow by late morning or early afternoon Wednesday, with about 80 percent of service resuming by Thursday.“Heading into the weekend, things look good for a full flight schedule at RSW," said Victoria Moreland, local airport spokeswoman. More: Irma update: Trash, yard debris pickup starting to resume; chainsaws available More: Hurricane Irma update: Water service restored, roads clear on Sanibel How quickly flights return depends in part on how quickly area hotels have rooms for airline crews to spend the night.Carriers typically contract with hotels for regular service; however, Moreland heard that some of those lodgings are without power.“We’re heard from multiple airlines that were concerned with finding rooms for their crews,” Moreland said.In Charlotte County, Punta Gorda Airport is open. Its website said Allegiant Air will resume operation there on Wednesday.Flights will take awhile to resume because carriers cleared airports from the region before Irma’s arrival was imminent. More: Inside a Cape Coral shelter during Hurricane Irma: Monkeys, iguanas and 3,000 paper fans More: Hurricane Irma update: Lee County slowly returning to normal, two days after the storm “You’re talking about millions of dollars for each aircraft. They’re not going to keep those valuable assets where there might be bad weather conditions,” Moreland said, adding that during winter blizzards, airlines park their jets here.She confirmed the south Fort Myers airport lost its regular electrical power Continue Reading

Fort Myers taxi company owner earns acclaim from industry peers worldwide

A Fort Myers-based taxicab operator who's built her company from a fleet of seven taxis in 1993 to more than 200 vehicles has earned top honors from her industry.Judy Griffin, president of Southwest Florida Transportation Group Inc., will accept the Taxicab Operator of the Year award Monday at the annual convention for the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association in Denver. The non-profit trade association has members worldwide and includes 1,000 taxicab companies, executive sedan and limousine services, airport shuttle fleets, non-emergency medical transportation companies, paratransit services, and other industry vendors.“I was floored,” Griffin said, recalling how she first learned of the recognition.Griffin’s active in the association, with nine years’ service on the board of directors.She’s also connected to her community through memberships in area chambers of commerce, the Businesspeople United for Political Action Committee, several business clubs for women and through faith-based philanthropy.Over the years, she’s steered her company through big industry-wide changes, including the adoption of mobile apps, websites, GPS-based dispatching – and competition from such transportation network companies as Uber and Lyft.Her company is the parent for local operations of Bluebird Taxi, Yellow Cab, Checker Transportation, Naples Taxi Service, a car rental business and several other spinoffs.The quickest way to reach a cab company in Southwest Florida, she said, is to "download our free 275-TAXI app."Griffin's business also is one of three local companies that formed the MBA Airport Transportation partnership that, along with Majestic Transportation and Apple Transportation, provides on-demand service at Southwest Florida International Airport.MBA has done “an admirable job. Their operations at the airport have grown over the years,” said Al Gulamali, director of operations and Continue Reading

New Castle Airport makes improvements

New Castle Airport is planning to expand its baggage claim waiting area to accommodate what a top airport official calls a successful rollout of Frontier Airlines service, with more improvements to come.The airport expects to have the expanded baggage claim waiting area ready before service expands to and from Atlanta and Detroit next month, said Stephen Williams, airport director. It will do that by removing a wall to double the space, he said."We're making those improvements as quickly as we can," Williams said.Airport officials have said the flights are generally nearly full.Frontier, which started service out of the airport last summer, clocked 70,000 arrivals and departures in its first four months alone. That compares with 7,779 trips during the month-long tenure of its unsuccessful predecessor, Skybus, in 2008.In addition, 50 parking spaces are being added to Lot C, the farthest lot from the terminal, Williams said. It is the old Air Transport Command restaurant site, near MedExpress.The airport has not been charging customers for parking, and the Delaware River and Bay Authority, which owns the facility, doesn't plan to do so until after more permanent improvements are done, Williams said. Those are expected to be made in the late summer and early fall, he said.Those permanent improvements include changing the circulation of the existing parking lot in front of the terminal and paving unpaved areas, Williams said."We've known that this service is certainly performing well, it's becoming more popular. We're responding to the customer demand," Williams said.Frontier has five destinations from the New Castle Airport: Denver, Chicago-Midway, Tampa, Fort Myers and Orlando. On April 29, Detroit and Atlanta will be added to that lineup."We're always talking to Frontier about what we're seeing, what the trends show us, versus what they're seeing," he said. Conversations about adding destinations, and additional flights on existing routes, continue, he said.Frontier Continue Reading

Frontier helps Delaware airport hit record 200,000 fliers

Frontier's experiment to turn Delaware's tiny Wilmington airport into one of its busiest cities was viewed as a gamble by many industry observers. But Frontier's effort there appears to be paying off for the both the airline and the airport, which had no commercial airline service until Frontier began flights there in July 2013.The airport last week celebrated its 200,00th passenger since Frontier's arrival. The Wilmington-Philadelphia Regional Airport says that's a record passenger figure. But it's a significant milestone for the airport simply given that it had gone nearly five years without regularly scheduled flights before Frontier's arrival in last July.Frontier and the Wilmington airport calculated that the 200,00th passenger came on Flight 383, a sold-out 12:35 p.m. departure to Chicago Midway, according to the South Jersey Times. Passenger Kathy Clark of suburban Chicago was singled out as the milestone customer. Clark says she flew Frontier to Delaware with her daughter and four other high school juniors from the Chicago to visit prospective colleges in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, according to the Cape Gazette of Delaware.Clark's distinction landed her a $500 Frontier credit while all other passengers on the 168-seat Airbus A320 received a gift bag that included a hat and chocolate treats.VIDEO: Milestone for commercial flight in Delaware ( Frontier's latest focus city attempt is Wilmington, Del. (April 2013)For Wilmington, the growing passenger count is welcome news for an airport that has struggled to hold on to airline service."We couldn't be happier that we've reached this point," Stephen William, airport director for the Delaware River and Bay Authority that runs the airport, says to Philadelphia news outlet news outlet "The airport has never processed this many passengers at any point in our history, so we are commemorating this as an important milestone."He also struck an optimistic tone for Frontier's Continue Reading