San Juan Airport’s Air Traffic Shutdown, in Images

Sep 22, 2017

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On an average day, almost 12,000 passengers board commercial aircraft at Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (SJU) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In 2016, the airport’s 4,327,833 boardings ranked it as the 43rd busiest among US airports.

But through midday Friday, the airport hasn’t logged any boardings since Delta’s last-minute flight into and out of SJU Tuesday ahead of Hurricane Maria. That will end soon. The airport has taken to Twitter to say “the runways are optimal for take-off and landing of airplanes,” and airlines are starting to operate rescue flights to the stricken island. But the damage to the airport terminal will require a lot of work before things are back to normal.

Yesterday, we took a look at the damage inside the terminal. Today, let’s take a look at the difference that the hurricane caused to air traffic.

Here’s a time lapse of the last 48 hours of traffic in/out of SJU before the storm, compressed to four minutes:

As you can see, Monday was a busy day. FlightAware recorded 142 arrivals into SJU, including 15 island hoppers from St. Croix (STX) and a cargo 747-400 from Luxembourg (LUX). JetBlue alone accounted for 29 of these arrivals. The most popular aircraft arriving into SJU was the Airbus A320s (21). Midday, the skies were busy with aircraft either heading to or back from SJU:

SJU flights 9-18-1500
Flights to/from SJU on September 18 15:00 UTC. Image captured on FlightRadar24.

At the exact same time two days later, as Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island, the skies were empty of SJU-bound flights:

Flights to/from SJU on September 20 15:00 UTC. Image captured on FlightRadar24.
Flights to/from SJU on September 20 15:00 UTC. Image captured on FlightRadar24.

Today, airlines are flying rescue flights into the SJU. American Airlines led the way with two 737-800 flights from Miami (MIA) first thing Friday morning, packed with supplies, crew and rescue members:

Since then, an American Airlines A330 from Philadelphia (PHL) and a JetBlue A320 from New York City’s JFK have joined the efforts. But, flights to/from SJU still aren’t anywhere close to normal:

Flights to/from SJU on September 22 15:00 UTC. Image captured on FlightRadar24.
Flights to/from SJU on September 22 15:00 UTC. Image captured on FlightRadar24.

Featured image captured on FlightRadar24.

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