By ANNE STANTON
TRAVERSE CITY — Cancelled flights into or from Cherry Capital Airport stranded or otherwise adversely affected nearly 2,300 people over the weekend, and airport officials blamed bad weather and the partial federal government shutdown.
An estimated 2,283 airline passengers were affected. Many lost luggage, some rented cars for long drives, and others spent unintended nights in faraway cities.
“The problem comes when Mother Nature won’t work with the federal government, and we can’t get it all together,” said Kevin Klein, airport director for Cherry Capital Airport.
The federal government shutdown last week prevented the airport’s instrument landing system from becoming fully operational. The Federal Aviation Administration had to retool part of the system to reflect changes in Cherry Capital's runway, which was extended by 400 feet. The new portion of the runway opened last week.
Klein said the federal furlough comes at a bad time; cancellations can be expected during autumn’s cloudy weather and periods of fog, which hamper pilot visibility. He said there is “absolutely” the chance that people will begin booking flights with other airports because of the problems here.
“But the airport and airlines are working together to get the FAA to bring people in to get this job completed and we’re putting every effort to do that,” he said. “We’re trying to get an exception made. We’re trying to put fort that it’s a safety issue and get this accomplished.”
See Tuesday's Record-Eagle for more details.