A water leak at JFK Airport caused hundreds of flight delays, cancellations, and diversions on the busiest travel weekend of the pandemic

·2 min read
jfk airport
Travelers are seen at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport ahead of Memorial day weekend on May 28, 2021 in New York City. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images
  • Nearly 300 flights were delayed or diverted after a water leak at JFK airport in New York City.

  • The FAA told Insider the leak was in one of its air-traffic control towers and has been repaired.

  • The disruption occurred on the busiest weekend for travel since the start of the pandemic.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Hundreds of flights were delayed, canceled, or diverted Saturday evening after a water leak at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, according to the airport and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The airport described the situation as a "minor water leak" in its main control tower, but the impact was significant - nearly 300 of the scheduled arrivals on Saturday evening were reported either delayed or diverted.

"Operations at this facility, combined with area weather, require more spacing between aircraft," the airport said in a tweet. "As such, the FAA is holding most flights destined for JFK from departing."

The airport warned in a second tweet that the airport remains open, "however as a result of this, coupled with regional weather conditions, customers may experience residual delays."

The FAA told Insider in a statement that air traffic controllers reported a water leak in the tower's ceiling earlier on Saturday and relocated to an alternate tower, causing the FAA to "briefly" slow departures and arrivals.

The FAA said controllers returned to the original tower later Saturday evening and resumed normal operations.

The disruption occurred in the middle of the Fourth of July weekend, which was expected to be the busiest weekend for travel since the start of the pandemic. AAA estimated that some 3.7 million Americans will fly this weekend - a 164% increase from last year.

The Transportation Security Administration also announced that it screened a whopping 2.1 million people at airport security checkpoints on July 1 alone, surpassing even 2019's volume.

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