Two-Day Power Outage Diverts & Cancels Flights at JFK

February 17, 2023

A power outage in a terminal at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport entered a second day Friday, forcing some flights to be canceled or diverted.

Among those flights was one from New Zealand that was turned around and sent back after nearly making it to New York. Predictably, passengers said they were “boiling with rage” when they deplaned back in Auckland after a 16-hour “flight to nowhere.”

In a tweet Thursday, airport officials blamed the disrupted flights on “electrical issues” at Terminal 1, adding that “the Port Authority continues to work with the flight operations as quickly as possible.” Further stating that the terminal would remained closed on Friday, the tweet cautioned that travelers “should check with their carriers for flight status before coming to the airport.”

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey runs New York’s major airports. It said it was working to accommodate affected flights at JFK’s four other active terminals.

Terminal 1 opened in the late 1990s. It is scheduled to be replaced by a new, $9.5 billion terminal that’s currently under construction. Groundbreaking was initially supposed to occur in 2020 but was delayed until last summer by the Covid pandemic.

The flight disruptions at JFK come just over a month after the Federal Aviation Administration ordered a nationwide groundstop that lasted two hours on the morning of January 11, disrupting more than 11,000 flights. A preliminary review by the FAA found that contract personnel had “unintentionally deleted files,” disrupting a critical computer system.

During a hearing Wednesday by the Senate Commerce Committee, Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called for “true redundancy” to the FAA’s Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) computer system as a safeguard against such an expansive disruption of flights in the future.

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