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Heavy Fog Delays Hundreds of Flights in L.A. Area

December 23, 2000|From a Times Staff Writer

Heavy fog delayed most flights in the Los Angeles area Friday morning, and airline officials advised passengers leaving today to call their carriers before heading to the airport to make sure that flights are on time.

The National Weather Service predicted dense fog in the Los Angeles basin this weekend, which threatened to affect flights, airline officials said.

"We are going to get people to where they want to go, but it just may take a little longer," said United Airlines spokesman Chris Brathwaite. "Patience is going to be key for people this weekend."

Friday's poor visibility at Los Angeles International Airport delayed hundreds of American, Southwest and United Airlines flights by as much as 75 minutes, although only a few flights were canceled, officials for the carriers reported.

At one point Friday morning, the FAA announced a "ground stop" at LAX, which prevented any planes from landing or taking off.

Passengers on canceled flights found it hard to get seats on planes already crowded with holiday travelers.

But by 6 p.m., things had pretty much returned to normal, officials reported.

At that time, 68 planes were landing each hour at LAX, only eight fewer per hour than normal, an FAA spokesman said.

Airport authorities have repeatedly advised travelers this weekend to arrive at the terminal an hour earlier than they usually would for domestic and international flights, because of the increased number of passengers.

"The Christmas-to-New Year's holiday period is an especially busy time at LAX," Michael DiGirolamo, deputy executive director of operations for Los Angeles World Airports, wrote in a public appeal.

"Our passenger traffic is up 5.4% over 1999, and we expect 2 million passengers to pass through LAX from now through New Year's."

Airport radio reported that space was available in all parking buildings Friday night.

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