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Hurricane Sandy Disrupts International Air Travel

  • Selah Hennessy

Air France planes are parked on the tarmac at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, in Roissy, near Paris. (Feb 2012 photo)

Air France planes are parked on the tarmac at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, in Roissy, near Paris. (Feb 2012 photo)

International flights were grounded Monday and more cancellations are expected as Hurricane Sandy makes its way toward and onto the east coast of the United States. Passengers are stranded across Europe and Asia.

Passengers were left stranded at a number of European cities. Air France cancelled all its flights to Washington and New York.

At Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport, some passengers arrived at the airport without hearing of the cancellations.

"I just arrived and someone told me my flight is cancelled," said Manuel from Mexico.

Jeff Baron from Connecticut was hoping to make his way home, but instead was stuck in Paris.

"Obviously we will need to get a place to stay here in Paris. And there is a little indecision as they do not know how long it is going to be before airports open," Baron said.

In Britain, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic were among a number of airlines that cancelled all connections to the U.S. east coast. A British Airways spokesperson said it was for customers' safety. Cancellations also occurred in Holland, Switzerland, and Germany among others.

Frankfurt airport cancelled 12 flights. A German businessman named Veit Janzik was hoping to make his way home to Detroit, Michigan and was waiting to see if his flight would go ahead.

He says he checked on the Internet and Detroit is not yet in the critical zone, so he is expecting everything to work out in the end.

In Asia, airlines in Hong Kong, Japan and India cancelled flights to the U.S. east coast. Air India scrapped both its daily flights to the United States.

Mark Duell from the flight tracking service FlightAware says with public transport and airport systems closed along the eastern U.S. coast, there is no way for international travelers to arrive.

"There is no mass transit running, so even if people do get to the airport, there [are] no immigration officers to screen them, there [are] no baggage handlers for them to move the bags, and there is no way for them to get out of the airport," Duell said.

He says without access to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, many international flights will be disrupted.

"It ... has more international flights than anywhere in the United States. So it is very important. Asia flights, some passengers can be re-routed through San Francisco or Los Angeles or Chicago, same for European flights. But if you are trying to get somewhere on the east coast, you will be stuck overseas for a few days."

Duell says flights through the east coast will be disrupted for at least the next 36 hours.