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Weather woes spark early delays at Tampa airport

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Published:   |   Updated: November 27, 2013 at 05:45 PM

Storms in the New York-Washington, D.C., area on Wednesday plagued flight schedules that contributed to delays at Tampa International Airport, affecting about three in 10 arrivals and departures on the heavy pre-Thanksgiving travel day.

No flights at Tampa International had been canceled as of late Wednesday afternoon, airport officials reported.

But as of 4 p.m. there were 132 delays, including 60 departures averaging 55 minutes each and 72 arrivals averaging 50 minutes, airport Communications Manager Emily Nipps said.

The busiest day of the year at Tampa International generally takes place during Spring break — depending on when Easter falls on the calendar — with the Tampa Bay area’s large tourist draw merging with local residents’ and college students’ travel.

However, airlines boosted flights at Tampa International on Wednesday from a daily average of about 300 to 450 to accommodate Thanksgiving holiday travel demand, Nipps said.

Because airlines schedule planes on a number of flight “legs” that serve different destinations each day, it’s possible flights serving Tampa from an airport without a weather problem could be affected because it was delayed elsewhere earlier in the day.

“The delayed flights are departing and arriving from various cities and regions, and the reasons for most delays are likely due to heavy air traffic and weather conditions,” Nipps said in an email.

Nearly a quarter-million passengers are expected to travel through Tampa International Airport over the Thanksgiving holiday, with Wednesday and Sunday the busiest with nearly 60,000 flying on each day.

“Tampa International experienced heavier delays on Wednesday than Tuesday because the New York area is our No. 1 destination,” Tampa International Communications Manager Christine Osborn said regarding the weather system that moved through the Northeast.

Nationwide,more than 43 million people are expected to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. About 39 million of those will be on the roads, while more than 3 million people are expected to fly.

tjackovics@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7817

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