It’s been a brutal winter for air travel in America, which suffered another blow on Thursday. On a day when severe weather had already grounded multiple flights around the country, flight cancellations piled even higher when a Delta Air Lines MD-88 jet skidded off the runway and crashed into a fence while landing at New York’s LaGuardia Airport around 11 a.m. Thursday morning.
Out of 127 passenger aboard Delta Flight 1086, which was flying to New York from Atlanta, 24 suffered non-life-threatening injuries and three were taken to the hospital, according to Newsday. Passengers were evacuated from the plane and taken to the terminal on buses, said officials. Authorities were investigating the cause of the incident, which reportedly caused a fuel leak.
As a result of the Delta crash-landing, the Federal Aviation Administration closed LaGuardia through 7 p.m. Thursday evening, though later in the afternoon it re-opened one of LaGuardia’s runways, partially resuming traffic. As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, 4,410 flights had been canceled around the U.S., according to flight tracking website FlightAware.com. That’s about 19 percent of the total number of 23,000 flights that are typical for a weekday in the winter, according to FlightAware. Another 2,477 flights around the country faced delays.
LaGuardia accounted for a significant chunk of the grounded flights, with 452 departing flight cancellations, or about 76 percent total. Another 427 incoming flights were also canceled. While LaGuardia was on top in terms of grounded flights, many other airports weren’t that far behind on Thursday. Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport canceled 416 flights Thursday, while airports up and down the East Coast and Chicago’s O’Hare all experienced significant cancellations.
Thursday topped off a disastrous two-week period starting Feb. 21 for the airlines, which were forced to cancel more than 20,000 flights due to weather, reports USA Today. Another 56,000 flights were delayed during that period.
Airlines waived change fees for passengers lying through airports affected by weather, a policy they have instituted during nearly every previous storm this winter.