NEW YORK – JetBlue, still reeling from a Valentine's Day snowstorm that forced hundreds of canceled and delayed flights, announced Saturday that it was canceling 23 percent of its weekend flights in an extraordinary effort to get the weather-battered airline back on some semblance of a normal schedule.
"JetBlue is taking this aggressive, unprecedented action to end rolling delays and cancellations, and to operate a new schedule reliably," the New York-based carrier said in a statement posted on its Web site.
All Saturday and Sunday flights on JetBlue were canceled in and out of 11 airports: Richmond, Virginia; Pittsburgh; Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Austin and Houston, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Nashville; Portland, Maine; and Bermuda. A normal weekend would include about 600 flights, and 133 were already canceled.
The low-cost airline warned that additional cancellations were possible and advised travelers to check with JetBlue before heading to their flights. The cancellations will also allow JetBlue's flight crews to get mandatory rest periods.
Affected customers may receive refunds or rebook their flights, the airline said.
JetBlue's problems began Wednesday when its operations at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport were overwhelmed by the snow and ice storm. With dozens of grounded jets and not enough gates to unload passengers, some flights were stranded on the tarmac for up to 10 hours.
The airline said it tried to get its system back to normal by selectively canceling flights Thursday and Friday, but long delays continued as a result of constraints that included a one-runway operation Thursday.
Disgruntled passengers complained of Friday chaos at JetBlue's terminals, with many expressing disbelief that problems were continuing. The airline had said on Friday that service was bouncing back, with 89 of its 570 planned flights nationwide canceled — down from 217 a day earlier.