iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As Hurricane Matthew bears down on the southeastern U.S., residents of coastal communities in the south are not the only ones preparing their next move.
Airlines and airports are working around the clock to weather the storm and ensure a quick restoration of schedules. In an extremely rare move, one airport has decided to close.
More than 2,700 flights have been canceled between Wednesday and Friday as of Thursday morning, according to FlightAware.com — including more than 1,500 flights today and 1,200 tomorrow.
Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has closed its doors — the first time at this airport since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After it reopens, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will have to sanitize and re-certify the airport since there will be minimal, if any, security while it’s closed.
Miami International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport plan to remain open, but commercial scheduled flights have come to a halt.
Airports across the Southeast will be securing equipment, vehicles, jet bridges and construction areas to minimize the damage during the storm. Airlines are moving some planes to hangars while flying other planes out of the area entirely until the storm is over.
Airports typically shut down their runways when crosswinds exceed 30 mph and the FAA closes air traffic control towers at sustained winds of 55mph. Current projections from ABC News’ meteorologists indicate gusts are expected to almost triple that during the worst moments of the storm.
Because of its large operations in Miami and Charlotte, American Airlines will see the most cancellations. The country’s largest airline has cancelled more than 1,200 flights so far, with reduced operations stretching into Sunday.
Delta Air Lines has scratched over 230 flights after deciding to shutter operations at Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
United Airlines told ABC News it is cancelling approximately 180 flights in Florida through Saturday.
JetBlue tells ABC News they are cancelling more than 450 flights through Saturday.
Southwest Airlines said they cancelled 60 flights but has not updated their numbers since Wednesday.
The airlines are offering to waive change fees for passengers if the severe weather affects their travel dates. The waivers apply to states as far north as North Carolina.
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