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Thick Fog Leads to Rerouted and Canceled Flights

December 25, 2000|JENNIFER MENA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hundreds of airline passengers scheduled to arrive at John Wayne Airport on Sunday night landed in Los Angeles International Airport instead after heavy fog limited runway visibility.

A flight information display showed that of 48 planes scheduled to arrive or depart after 7 p.m., 19 were canceled and six were diverted to Los Angeles International Airport.

John Wayne spokeswoman Ann Gill McCarley said she believes many passengers scheduled to arrive in Orange County eventually were brought to the airport by shuttle bus after arriving at LAX.

McCarley said the effect of the bad weather wasn't as serious as it might have been on other days because the airport handled 15% fewer passengers than the daily average of 20,000.

"Most people have already gotten where they were going if they were going," she said. "Of course, for those still traveling, it's definitely affected them."

While Los Angeles remained clear, the fog rolled into Orange County about 6 p.m., reducing visibility from a plane cockpit to about 1,000 feet. Federal Aviation Administration guidelines require that pilots be able to see 1,600 feet of the runway.

By 7:45 p.m., visibility dropped to about 700 feet, according to the FAA.

America West said it canceled 12 flights because of poor weather in Orange County or the flights' originating cities.

American Airlines said flights from Chicago were delayed or canceled because temperatures of 5 degrees or lower prevented planes from warming up enough for takeoff.

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