Power Outage Cancels, Diverts Flights at JFK Airport

Terminal 1 was closed most of Thursday, February 16, and will remain closed on Friday, February 17, due to an outage caused by an electrical fire.

Passengers sit with their luggage in Terminal 1 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Passengers and their luggage in Terminal 1 at JFK International Airport in New York, Friday, February 17. A power outage in the terminal has stretched into a second day, stranding passengers and forcing flights to be canceled or diverted to other airports.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

A power outage in a terminal of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport stretched into a second day Friday after forcing some flights to be canceled or diverted, including one that was turned around and sent back to New Zealand after nearly making it to the United States.

The airport operators said in a tweet late Thursday that Terminal 1, which handles some of the airport’s international flights, would remain closed Friday “due to electrical issues.”

The outage was caused by an electrical panel failure that led to a small fire, which was quickly extinguished, authorities said.

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

The agency did not provide any estimate of how many flights were canceled or diverted, but thousands of travelers were likely affected.

Yahayra Hunt and her husband were stuck in a hotel near the airport Friday after their flight to Rome was canceled Thursday. They’re part of a group of 16 people who booked an 11-day tour to Italy and Israel.

“We actually have another agent trying to see if we can find another airport to fly out of,” she said. “It’s a nightmare.”

Hunt, 46, said they would like to leave the hotel and see the city as they wait. But they don’t want to risk missing a rescheduled flight.

“Being stuck in a hotel during your vacation is not fair at all,” said Hunt, who owns a beauty salon in North Carolina.

Some planes were forced to return to their points of origin.

An Air New Zealand flight was two-thirds of the way across the Pacific Ocean when it had to make a U-turn and head back to Auckland. The flight landed back in New Zealand after more than 16 hours in the air.

Terminal 1 opened in the late 1990s. It is scheduled to be replaced by a new, $9.5 billion terminal now under construction. Groundbreaking was initially supposed to happen in 2020 but was delayed until last summer by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Associated Press provides independent news journalism from around the world.
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