The monstrous hurricane is driving carriers to slash prices, adjust flight schedules, cancel flights, and close or move operations. Fred Katayama reports.
As Hurricane Irma barrels its way towards Florida, U.S. airlines that are just recovering from Hurricane Harvey are bracing for more disruptions. They're helping residents get out of the storm's path by slashing prices. JetBlue and American are capping outbound fares at $99; Delta at $399. The carriers are also adjusting flight schedules and canceling flights. United has suspended operations out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, which was hit hard by Irma Wednesday afternoon. It has also extended travel waivers on fees and fare differences in select cities in Florida so passengers can change flights. Buckingham Research analyst Daniel McKenzie said, "Winter tourism to Florida and the Caribbean is likely stunted by the fallout from Hurricane Irma; it's a similar story for Houston. We can't quantify the earnings weakness today, but there is further earnings downside." American will begin winding down its south Florida operations on Friday, and it canceled flights bound for Miami scheduled to arrive that day. Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida by the weekend. Oyster.com senior editor Kelsey Blodget: SOUNDBITE: KELSEY BLODGET, SENIOR EDITOR, OYSTER.COM, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "If we do see a major airport closure in South Florida this could be phenomenally significant. This could drag on for weeks. We saw with Hurricane Harvey the Houston isn't reopening until Friday so that was 2 weeks after the storm." Spirit Airlines, which is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, plans to move its operations center to Detroit Thursday evening.