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Air Travel in Puerto Rico’s San Juan Remains Limited


Officials at San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin Airport continued to recommend Tuesday

Officials at San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin Airport continued to recommend Tuesday that people not show up for flights unless they have confirmation from their airline.

The announcement, posted to the airport's Facebook page, comes as the airport continues to offer an extremely limited commercial schedule in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which ravaged Puerto Rico last week, knocking out power to the entire island.

A spokeswoman for the FAA said in a phone call Tuesday that air traffic controllers are now handling 36 arrivals and departures per hour into San Juan, which is close to the normal handling capacity and up from a total of approximately 100 arrivals and departures for all of Monday. Improved handling capacity came after FAA technicians hiked two miles to the mountaintop radar site Pico del Este to reestablish frequencies.

However, landing and arrival slots in Puerto Rico are being allocated by FEMA, and commercial flights must share those slots with cargo flights, military flights, relief flights and FEMA flights.

Twelve commercial flights were authorized for Tuesday, the airport reported. The extreme limitations continued as videos have shown crowds waiting in the airport without air conditioning, hoping to make their way out of Puerto Rico.

American Airlines, which usually flies approximately 20 daily flights out of San Juan, operated just two on Tuesday and planned to operate only two more Wednesday.

Delta planned to operate three flights from San Juan on Tuesday instead of its usual six. Both carriers also are transporting supplies onto the island. Other U.S. airlines are eschewing scheduled service entirely.

Southwest planned to use the two arrival and departure slots it was allocated for both Tuesday and Wednesday for relief flights, bringing in supplies and taking customers to Orlando. United was allocated one slot per day and planned to use that slot Tuesday to carry 70,000 pounds of supplies to the island and then to return to Chicago with as many people as possible.

"When those flights return with evacuees, United provides an additional flight at no charge to help get them to their final destination and hotel stays if needed," the carrier wrote in an email. "We are still waiting to see when our operations can increase. We should know soon."

Social media videos and news reports show booked passengers in San Juan complaining that they couldn't get ticketed due to the collapse of communication networks on the island.

In a statement Tuesday, Delta acknowledged the difficulties with the island's communications system.

"Delta understands the challenges faced by Puerto Rican customers struggling with communication on the island, and suggests they stay abreast of flight schedules by visiting, for those who have access to Internet, and by staying tuned to local news media," the carrier said. 

Source: Travel Weekly

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