Delta Air Lines is preparing to restart flights as Hurricane Michael – the third-most powerful storm ever to strike the U.S. mainland – continued to move northeast across the Florida Panhandle and into south-central Georgia. The Category 4 storm made landfall Wednesday afternoon with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour.
The Atlanta-based carrier canceled more than 80 flights yesterday at Panama City, Tallahassee, Destin-Fort Walton Beach, in Florida; Albany and Valdosta, Georgia; and Dothan, Alabama. Delta employees will assess facilities and infrastructure in those cities, and if conditions permit, will restart flights there Thursday morning.
Flights resumed at Pensacola International Airport Wednesday evening.
As of midday Wednesday, Delta said it does not anticipate any disruptions at its Atlanta hub given the storm’s forecasted northeastern track. Atlanta will see rain and high winds overnight Wednesday into Thursday, but “those will remain within viable limits during Delta’s normal operating hours at Hartsfield-Jackson International.”
Delta plans to send portable generators, handheld devices to assist with boarding in the event of a disruption of airport power, satellite phones, water and other hurricane readiness supplies, as well as additional staff to provide operational support at certain impacted airports.
Southwest, meanwhile, said it hopes to begin operations at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport and Pensacola International Airport on Thursday, “contingent upon local conditions.”
As the fast-moving storm continues its track up the eastern seaboard, North Carolina's airports are facing dozens of flight cancellations in preparation for high winds and heavy rain. More than 300 flights have been cancelled Thursday in and out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport, as of this morning, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.com. Raleigh-Durham International had about 60 cancellations, while South Carolina's Charleston International reported 50.