News24

First flights leave New York

2010-04-20 09:01

New York - Days of flight cancellations caused by a lingering mammoth volcanic ash cloud came to an end on Monday night for at least a few travellers who left New York's John F Kennedy airport on flights home.

Air France flight 023 to Paris took off three hours behind schedule and the hundreds of passengers lined up at check-in counters in New York's main airport suggested there would likely be more delays ahead.

But for many, wearied by days of dashed hopes and contingency plans, the sight of "cancelled" notes on flight information screens being progressively placed with "check-in in progress" was a massive relief.

Earlier on Monday, check-in was underway for three flights headed to Paris, along with two to Moscow and at least one flight each to Munich, Vienna and Istanbul.

Openskies, which runs business-class flights between New York and Paris, said two flights were arriving from Toulouse, and it expected to operate two flights to Paris this evening from Newark airport just outside New York City.

Extra costs


The gradual resumption of flights came as European airspace was expected to reopen at least partially on Tuesday after days of closures.

"We just learned all of a sudden today that our flight has been reinstated," said Annie Konbrza, who had been visiting her son in Texas.

She and her husband had been offered a flight from New York to Toulouse, but were now unsure whether they would be flying into Toulouse or Paris. Wherever they landed, they still had to make their way back home to Montpellier.

"We prefer not to think about the extra costs," her husband said.

Business traveller Stanislaus Lacroix said he had come here from Los Angeles after his Los Angeles-Amsterdam flight was cancelled last Thursday. He was now checked in for a flight to Toulouse.

"I've already spent four nights and $150 in the Sheraton in LA and I have one night reserved in New York for $180, but I'll be okay with losing the money if I can finally leave," he said.

"We've tried everything. We were even ready to do LA-Cancun, then go through Portugal to get to Paris," added his colleague Francois Prieux. Others have had better luck.

Mila Galdo arrived for her vacation in New York last Wednesday, a day before airports across Europe closed, and her return flight is scheduled to land in Paris just as the airports there are expected to reopen on Tuesday morning.