Hurricane Irma: Florida flights starting to resume but situation still dangerous

Hurricane Irma: Florida flights starting to resume but situation still dangerous

British Airways flights between Miami and London are due to resume today but transatlantic services to other parts of Florida remain grounded due to the devastation and flooding caused by Hurricane Irma.

The airline is making arrangements to have relief aircraft ready to fly customers from Florida back to London as soon as it is safe to do so.

At least 6.5 million homes in Florida, two-thirds of the total, are without power after the hurricane cut through the state after leaving a trail of destruction across many Caribbean islands.

Relief operations are under way and engineers are working to restore power, but many areas remain stranded.

Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm yesterday, but with near hurricane-force winds still being felt in some areas.

The storm is now affecting coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina and eastern Alabama.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in its latest travel advisory for the US: “The post-storm situation remains dangerous, with extreme flooding, power outages and limited communications.

“The storm is not the only hazard, many electric lines will be down and some buildings may not be structurally sound.

“This may mean our ability to provide physical assistance becomes limited. You should consider your travel plans very carefully, staying in contact with your airline and/or tour operator as appropriate.”

British travellers should continue to follow the advice of local authorities and any evacuation orders, the FCO said.

At least four deaths have been linked to the storm in Florida following 37 people being killed in Caribbean islands.

BA expects to run its two flights from Miami to Heathrow today after cancelling services yesterday.

One of two Orlando to Gatwick flights today has been cancelled together with a service from Tampa.

The airline cancelled a Fort Lauderdale to Gatwick flight yesterday and said it would give an update about services due to run on Thursday as it receives more details from local airport authorities.

BA has chartered two regional jets from Caribbean airline Liat to fly from Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos islands to Antigua today to carry people who were due on a service cancelled on Sunday.

Passengers will be booked onto an extra service from Antigua to Gatwick due to land at 1pm tomorrow

The airline plans to run the next flight to St Kitts as normal tomorrow while flights to Antigua, Bermuda, Barbados and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic are operating as normal.

Virgin Atlantic continued to warn that its Florida and Caribbean flights remain severely disrupted.

“Before you travel, please ensure your hotel or accommodation will still accept you, as many hotels and resorts in Florida and the Caribbean will be closed,” the airline said.

“Miami, the Florida Keys and most coastal areas have experienced damage to their infrastructure and we strongly recommend you do not travel to these areas.”

The continued closure of Orlando Sanford airport today has forced Thomson to delay outbound flights by as much as 72 hours.

Delays are affecting flights due from Bristol, Glasgow and Manchester. Flights from Sanford due to depart to Glasgow on Monday is now due to leave tomorrow together with a delayed inbound Manchester flight.

Thomson has also cancelled four flights due into Cuba this week and next week.

“We can confirm that all customers who are currently in Varadero will be flown home when the airport becomes operational and will all receive a full refund on their holiday,” the operator said.

A damage assessment was underway in Varadero and Havana in Cuba with airports expected to re-open on today, according to Thomas Cook, whichhas thousands of holidaymakers stuck in Cuba.

The operator said last night: “We continue to work on our evacuation programme for Varadero. The first evacuation flight to Cuba is in the air, and we expect to bring home all customers in Varadero by Thursday.”

The company added: “We are reviewing our flying programme back from Orlando and will advise customers of our plans to bring them home once Orlando airport has re-opened.

“We are increasing our special assistance team to 66 offering support to our customers on the ground in Cuba and Orlando. The Dominican Republic is now operating as normal.

“We are offering free amendments and cancellations to all customers due to travel to Holguin, Cuba and Orlando, Miami and Florida Keys up to and including Friday 15 September.”

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