American Airlines said Thursday that it is canceling all flights to and from Charlotte on Friday because of an expected winter storm.
The move will impact hundreds of flights. American operates more than 90 percent of daily air service at Charlotte Douglas International Airport – typically about 650 flights – so air travel on Friday to and from Charlotte will be mostly stopped until Saturday morning, when American plans to resume flying from the city.
Other carriers were evaluating whether to cancel their flights, but Charlotte Douglas officials said they expect most service Friday to be canceled.
American spokeswoman Katie Cody said the airline decided to preemptively cancel Charlotte flights as forecasts pointed more clearly towards an ice storm that would likely force cancellations Friday.
“To prevent people from sitting around at the airport all day, we decided to cancel,” she said.
The airline is completing all of its outbound flights Thursday evening, and won’t leave any aircraft overnight at Charlotte Douglas because of an anticipated 1/2 inch of ice. Ice on airplane wings is a major hazard, and deicing planes is a costly and time-consuming operation.
The airline said Thursday it is notifying travelers who are scheduled on the flights, and will waive change fees to book a new flight.
Charlotte Douglas Deputy Aviation Director Jack Christine said crews will still work 12-hour shifts starting Thursday night to keep runways clear and roadways around the terminal open. Even though there will be hardly any passengers, Christine said it’s important to keep the airport open so it can be ready as soon as the airlines resume flying.
“Snow is very different from ice,” said Christine. “Charlotte does sometimes lend itself more to ice than snow.”
Other American hubs are affected as well, American said. Flights from Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia will be reduced, with many canceled, and all regional flights by American Eagle will be canceled Saturday to and from New York’s three main airports. Mainline American flights will be canceled after from late Saturday onward to and from New York. American will resume flying to New York’s three airports Sunday.
“We never want to cancel flights, but we can’t help weather,” said Cody.