Houston’s two commercial airports are set to reopen on Wednesday afternoon as southeastern Texas begins to unravel the mess caused by Hurricane Harvey. With thousands of flights already canceled by the storm the airports reopening is a major step forward in getting people and supplies moving. But the vast majority of flights will still not be operating for at least a day; it could be early next week before something resembling normal operations resume.
— Bryan Wood (@bryanwx) August 28, 2017
The airport opening is a function of confirming that the runways and taxiways are safe and the FAA having staff in position to handle traffic. Airlines cannot operate if the field is closed (the special rescue flights not withstanding) so this is a necessary step towards resumption of service.
— AirlineGeeks.com (@AirlineGeeks) August 27, 2017
But it won’t get the thousands of Houston-based airline or airport employees to the terminals. It won’t get the planes back into rotations at the airports. Both United Airlines and Southwest Airlines, the two largest operators in Houston, note that full resumption of operations is days away.
Southwest previously canceled all flights at Hobby through at least Noon on Thursday:
UPDATE: Flights to/from HOU have been cancelled through noon, Thursday.
Affected Customers can check status/rebook: https://t.co/mlAe9VbmGl
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) August 29, 2017
United similarly announced that operations would be suspended through Noon Thursday. It expects to resume operations with only hub-to-hub flights for the first day, ensuring that it can staff the flights and keep things moving.
So what does the “open airport” really mean?
It makes things easier for the airlines moving supplies into Houston; no more special permission required from the FAA.
It eases the process for the commercial carriers to bring volunteer “operations recovery” reams in from their other hubs. Typically hundreds of non-residents will come in to an affected airport to help restart operations and cover for their colleagues who are directly affected by the storm. In this case the need is even greater as both airports serve as crew bases meaning pilots and flight attendants for Southwest Airlines and United Airlines are among those displaced by the storm. Crew from other airports will come in on the first inbound flights, positioning to help staff the spin-up of operations.
— Andrea Rumbaugh (@andrearumbaugh) August 30, 2017
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