News and notes from Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport

UPDATE: Atlanta airport, airlines prepare for flight cancellations when storm hits

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is preparing for the weather expected this weekend that will lead to flight cancellations.

"We have plans in place to address inclement weather and we are monitoring approaching weather systems closely," according to Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Reese McCranie.

Both Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines are warning that flights to Atlanta and other cities in the Southeast may be impacted by the weather.

"We certainly are anticipating cancellations," said Delta spokesman Michael Thomas. Just how many and when is yet to be determined.

Atlanta-based Delta is waiving certain change fees for those with flights booked Jan. 6-7 to, from or through Atlanta, Asheville; Birmingham; Charlotte; Chattanooga; Columbia; Fayetteville; Greensboro; Greenville/Spartanburg; Huntsville; Jacksonville; Knoxville; Nashville; New Bern, N.C.; Newport News; Norfolk; Raleigh-Durham; Tri-Cities, Tenn.; and Wilmington, N.C.

Travelers can rebook flights to leave in advance of the storm, or otherwise late Saturday or Sunday after the storm.

Those whose flights are cancelled or significantly delayed are entitled to a refund.

Delta said its teams are preparing for de-icing and snow preparations.

Delta will use de-icing pads by the international terminal as well as newer de-icing pads recently built on the north side of the airfield.

Operational teams are working with de-icing teams at the airport to determine how many flights can be de-iced during a given period, Thomas said.

"From that point we will make a determination about the number and to what extent and at what point the cancellations begin," Thomas said. "Saturday will certainly be a recovery day, as well as Sunday."

Storm disruptions often leave some airplanes out of position, which means it can be a gradual process for airlines to get back up to a full regular schedule.

Dallas-based Southwest warned that its flights Jan. 6-7 to or from Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Greenville/Spartanburg, Nashville, Norfolk and Raleigh/Durham may be delayed, diverted or canceled. Passengers with flights booked for those dates can rebook or travel standby without paying any additional charge, according to Southwest.

Travelers still planning to fly over the weekend should check their flight status frequently for updates.

Meanwhile, the world's busiest airport said it is prepared with supplies to keep operations going as needed. "We will ensure that the airport is open and running, and that all runways, roadways and taxiways are cleared," McCranie said.

Hartsfield-Jackson by the numbers

  • 40+ pieces of snow equipment, including snow brooms, plows and spreaders
  • 92,000 gallons of de-icing fluid
  • 300 tons of sand-salt-gravel mix

Check back here for more from the AJC on airport preparations for the storm.

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About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.