Scattered delays big change from weekday tie-ups

Snow and cold in the Midwest delayed some travelers Saturday and a few airline flights were canceled because of labor disagreements, but the pre-Christmas rush had eased noticeably from the tie-ups caused by storms during the week.

''We're doing great,'' said Mark Pesce, a spokesman for Philadelphia International Airport, where the weather Saturday was cold but clear.

Boston's Logan Airport was crowded but most flights were on time.

''It's busy but going smoothly,'' said Logan spokesman Jose Juves. He said officials expected 75,000 people to pass through Logan on Saturday, about 10 percent more than usual.

Even Chicago had relatively good weather and none of the airlines canceled flights at O'Hare International Airport in anticipation of bad weather as they had done several times in the past month, said Monique Bond, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation. Temperatures reached the upper teens Saturday in the Chicago area.

''There's some scattered delays with flights between here and (New York's) La Guardia, but nothing serious,'' Bond said.

American Airlines had delays at O'Hare of about 45 minutes due to cold and light snow, said spokesman Mark Slitt.

At Chicago's Midway Airport, ATA continued to experience delays because of frozen equipment on aircraft fueling trucks, she said. On Thursday, diesel-powered runway equipment and fuel trucks at Midway were put out of commission when the fuel turned gelatinous in the cold.

In Philadelphia, Pesce said airlines reported delays or cancellations on only about 5 percent of Saturday's flights, mostly because of problems or delays elsewhere.

Air travel peaked Friday, with passenger volume up about 15 percent over a normal day, Pesce said.

In addition to the weather, travelers were delayed by labor problems at Delta Air Lines, which had canceled some flights in advance because pilots were refusing to work overtime, spokesman Bill Kress said in Atlanta. He wouldn't say how much of Saturday's schedules had been cut.

He said Delta flights at Chicago were delayed up to 50 minutes by snow, and morning fog in Los Angeles led the airline to reroute some flights coming from Hawaii to San Francisco.

''In general, we are running a rather good operation today,'' Kress said.

Amtrak had delays of 45 minutes to an hour Saturday between New York and Washington because of signal problems in northern New Jersey, said spokesman Russ Hall.

''Traffic is heavy,'' said Russ Hall, an Amtrak spokesman in Boston. He said that other than the delays caused by the New Jersey problems, most trains in New England were on time.

In Chicago, three of the 52 Amtrak trains scheduled to leave Union Station were canceled because of moisture freezing inside engines and car couplings, spokesman Kevin Johnson said.


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