HUNDREDS of Irish passengers are stranded in New York today after three airlines cancelled flights in and out of the city as Hurricane Sandy approached.
Aer Lingus, United and US Airways all moved to cancel transatlantic flights as the Big Apple braced itself for one of the biggest storms ever to hit the east coast of America.
Hundreds of transatlantic and domestic flights in the New York metropolitan area and other east coast cities have been cancelled in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy landing today.
The Irish carrier issued an apology to customers affected yesterday evening as they cancelled all six of today's flights to and from New York.
Aer Lingus flights to Boston and Chicago are so far unaffected. Aer Lingus spokesman Declan Kearney said that they were forced to take action for passenger safety as the expected arrival of Hurricane Sandy today saw New York going into shut-down mode.
"All three flights going from Ireland have been cancelled as have the three return flights coming from New York. The public transport system in New York has been shut down and the other airlines have also been cancelling their flights," he said.
The decision means that more than 700 Aer Lingus passengers who were scheduled to travel back to Dublin and Shannon today will now have to stay in New York as the city braces itself for the oncoming storm.
Hundreds more are likely to be impacted by the United and US Airways cancellations. United has cancelled thousands of flights on the east coast with operations expected to resume by tomorrow afternoon.
There are fears that the storm will intensify in strength as it moves up the coast.
Kearney said that the airline will endeavour to get those stranded in New York on the earliest available flights.
The move also means that more than 700 people due to fly to New York with Aer Lingus on Monday will no longer be able to travel. Customers affected by the cancellations have been advised to visit aerlingus.com where they can rebook their flight free of charge.
The airline is also offering full refunds on cancellations.
Kearney said that the airline did not anticipate that the disruption would continue into the rest of the week with all other flights on schedule.
"We will monitor the situation and notify passengers if anything changes," he said.
A spokeswoman for the Dublin Airport Authority advised passengers flying to the States over the next two days to check with their airline first before travelling to the airport.
Huge storm batters US