Hurricane Irma is grounding travelers as far away as London and Doha, and cancellations will likely continue well into the week. Flights will be suspended at Miami International Airport, Florida's busiest, through Monday after the airport suffered "significant water damage," the airport's chief executive late Sunday.
Nearly 9,000 flights to or from Florida had been canceled because of Irma, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. Additionally, at least another 275 had been grounded at airports in Georgia and South Carolina. Overall, more than 12,500 flights have been canceled since Irma first began affecting flights in the Caribbean, FlightAware reports at 5 p.m. ET. Ominously for travelers, hundreds more – possibly thousands more – may ultimately be tacked on to that tally as Irma moves past Florida and inland over the Southeast.
On Sunday, flights had been halted at more than a dozen airports in Florida. Among those were some of the nation’s busiest, such as those serving Miami, Orlando and Tampa. Flights would likely remain grounded at least through Monday, possibly longer. Even once the weather clears, airlines and airports will need to get crews back in place – a daunting task since many workers have evacuated to other locations.
South Florida is not just a hub for American Airlines, but it receives dozens of flights from carriers that serve Latin America and the Caribbean. Big regional carriers like Chile's Latam, Colombia-based Avianca and Panamanian carrier Copa have also canceled flights to Florida this weekend.
All of these airlines said they would waive change or cancel fees due to the storm.
Irma's impact won't only affect travelers. Packages will also be delayed as FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service suspend pickups and deliveries in hundreds of cities in the South.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts Irma will weaken to a tropical depression during the week, and could strike near Memphis – FedEx's hub – by midweek.