Pacific flights affected by Japan quake, tsunami

Today’s devastating earthquake in Japan and resulting tsunami warnings are having an impact on flights across the world. Bloomberg News reports “Tokyo’s Narita International Airport, Japan’s main overseas gateway, [with plans for] nine flights would leave today as carriers begin clearing a backlog of about 13,800 travelers stranded by” the fallout of today’s earthquake. No planes are expected to land at Narita today, Bloomberg reporting.Officials say they have found no visible damage to runways there.

At Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, also one of the busiest in Asia, flights had resumed, according to Bloomberg.

The news service adds that Japan’s two biggest airlines — ANA and Japan Airlines — combined to cancel “at least 292 flights nationwide, affecting more than 60,000 travelers.”

In the United States, the Chicago Tribune writes “the three largest U.S. carriers scrambled Friday to ensure that employees in Japan were safe as they re-routed passengers and aircraft bound for the earthquake-stricken country.”

Delta had canceled 29 flights to Japan as of midday, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Tribune says United, Delta and American “canceled many, but not all, flights to Japan” on Friday. Most carriers offering service to Japan instituted flexible rebooking policies for customers scheduled to fly to or through the affected areas.

Alaska’s KTUU TV reports a number of Tokyo-bound flights have diverted to Anchorage, including at least two operated by American and one by United.

“Hundreds of passengers crowded into the terminal at Ted Stevens International Airport and then boarded shuttle busses bound for Anchorage hotel rooms,” KTUU says.

DESTINATIONS: Hawaii on tsunami alert: Flights diverted, hotels evacuate to higher floors

The Wall Street Journal adds Cathay Pacific “said two of its flights to Tokyo’s Narita Airport from Hong Kong were diverted to Nagoya and Osaka on Friday, while another flight to Nagoya from Taipei was diverted to Osaka.”

Still, most international carriers warned of possible disruptions to Japan flights over the coming days.

In Hawaii, KPUA radio of Hilo reports that while Honolulu’s airport remained open, about a half-dozen flights headed there turned back following the tsunami warnings.

Hawaiian Airlines offered an update on its flights operating to trans-Pacific destinations, saying most were scheduled to land as scheduled — including a flight to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

Sandilands warns that the disaster is likely to result in a “serious disruption” on flights “across the northern Pacific routes between the U.S. to Japan and beyond to China and South Korea.”

He adds “those service issues could take a day to resolve because of aircraft diversions, crew duty hours and other factors.”

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