Smoke caused by wildfires in Canada and the northeastern United States is creating very hazardous air travel conditions around Philadelphia (PHL), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), and New York City’s LaGuardia (LGA) airports, prompting the FAA to take steps to reduce air travel and traffic in the region.
Earlier today, the FAA issued a “ground stop” for Newark Airport. A ground stop is when an airport stops receiving inbound aircraft; these flights are usually rerouted, delayed, or simply canceled. According to the FAA, “Ground Delay Programs (GDP) are implemented to control air traffic volume to airports where projected traffic demand is expected to exceed the airport’s acceptance rate for a lengthy period of time.” The most common reason for reducing an airport’s acceptance rate is adverse weather, or in today’s case, thick smoke from wildfires burning in North America.
While the ground stop was lifted, the FAA continues to restrict the volume of traffic leaving and arriving into Newark Airport. The airport is home to 29 airlines that offer departures to 184 destinations around the world; United Airlines uses the airport as its largest hub. As of 4 pm, 2% of Newark’s flights were canceled while 12% were delayed. United is being impacted the most among the U.S. carriers due to the situation at Newark; 1% of its flights have been canceled while another 9% are delayed today. For flights heading to Newark, 2% of today’s flights have been canceled while at least 22% were/are delayed.
As of press time, inbound flights at Newark are delayed at their origin by an average of 1 hours and 22 minutes.
The situation at New York City’s nearby LaGuardia airport isn’t much better. Arrival delays there for airborne aircraft is now at 56 minutes and growing. 2% of flights leaving LaGuardia have been canceled while 32% are delayed. 2% of flights into LaGuardia have been canceled while 40% are facing delays.
“The FAA is now slowing traffic from the East Coast and Midwest bound for Philadelphia International Airport due to reduced visibility from wildfire smoke,” the FAA announced a short time ago.
With smoke conditions not expected to improve today or tomorrow, continued impacts to flight operations at airports in the northeast and beyond are likely.
Those traveling through the hazardous smoke should wear N-95 face masks to limit the amount of smoke inhaled while outside or while on their way to airports to make flights. The air quality in New York City is expected to be so bad today that it would be healthier to smoke a 1/2 pack of cigarettes today than it would be to simply breath in outdoor air all day. The same is true for areas nearby from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts.
With AQI scores in the 200-400 range in the New York City metro area today, and exceptionally high AQI values in recent days building to today’s worrisome air, the “fresh” air outside exceeds the smoke impacts from a half pack of cigarettes. Data from PurpleAir monitors set-up in homes, schools, and backyards throughout the northeastern U.S. already see AQI values over 200 in many places around the New York City area, as well as New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Some monitors are even reporting AQI values in the 420 – 530 range.
People in the region are urged to consider changing their travel plans to another day/time and to avoid any exposure to unfiltered outdoor air.
— the Weatherboy (@theWeatherboy) June 7, 2023