It was business as usual at the Portland International Jetport on Thursday, but airport Director Paul Bradbury said that would change as soon as the mid-Atlantic region begins to feel the effects of the monster storm that is predicted to hit the region Friday.

“Oh, absolutely,” he said. “Certainly many of our nonstop destinations will be impacted.”

His best advice to travelers looking to get out of Maine in the next few days is to watch for updates from their airlines, or consider changing their plans. All carriers operating out of the jetport are waiving change fees for flights affected by the storm and Bradbury said anyone with travel flexibility should take advantage of it.

Should you stay or should you go now?

“For those that can get out ahead, that is preferred because it makes their restart easier,” Bradbury said. “It’s a win-win for an air carrier.”

There were 56 flights and departures scheduled for Friday, and one already had been canceled Thursday night, the 8 a.m. American Airlines departure for Charlotte, North Carolina, where freezing rain is expected to coat the region in ice.

Bradbury said that even if there is no snow in Maine, it’s unlikely all flights will come and go as planned Friday and Saturday, particularly those that pass through Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Most Southwest flights to and from Portland originate in Baltimore.

“And Baltimore is going to get whacked,” Bradbury said.

Snow is expected to begin falling in the D.C. area early Friday afternoon and could dump more than 2 feet of snow before tapering off Sunday morning.

Travelers headed to Detroit, Atlanta and Chicago ought to be able to avoid delays, Bradbury said.

“That doesn’t mean it can’t change,” he cautioned.

Forecasters were predicting that New York might not get that same wallop from the powerful storm, but travelers going in and out of LaGuardia, JFK and Newark airports will be affected, he said.

“Once you start to impact the mid-Atlantic states, it – no pun intended – snowballs,” he said. “It’s a busy part of the country and there is a ripple effect.”

American Airlines, which is Portland’s busiest airline, with 22 flights in or out of Portland daily, was already experiencing delays, although Bradbury said he couldn’t be sure it was storm-related. Charlotte is a hub for the airline, and flights to and from that airport have already been reduced, although Bradbury said the evening flight from Charlotte that ends in Portland was on time.

Bradbury pointed out that this is the quietest time of the year for the jetport, with most airlines running reduced schedules to Vacationland. United flies to Dulles International from Portland, but not during the winter.

 


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