An “electrical panel failure” caused a “small isolated fire” that was immediately extinguished, according to a social media post from the airport. Terminal 1, which handles flight traffic from major international carriers such as Air France, Lufthansa, Japan Airlines, and Korea Air, will also remain closed on Friday due to the electrical issues.
“Travelers should check with their carriers for flight status before coming to the airport,” said another social media post from the airport, which noted that authorities are “working with the terminal’s operator to restore flight operations as quickly as possible.”
All four flights from JFK Airport scheduled by Lufthansa, all six flights scheduled by Swiss Air Lines, and both flights scheduled by TAP Air Portugal were canceled on Friday, according to data from FlightAware. Other international providers, including Air France and ITA Airways, likewise canceled a majority of their flights.
The electrical outage forced one plane from Air New Zealand to reverse course eight hours into its flight, according to a report from CNN. The company told the outlet that diverting to another airport in the United States “would have meant the aircraft would remain on the ground for several days, impacting a number of other scheduled services and customers.”
“Not really sure what’s going on. No one is aware of the situation, at least that’s what it seems like,” Anthony Russo, a passenger who was hoping to travel to London, said in an interview with NBC New York. “I had a lot planned, I was gonna see some friends, and now I don’t know what the hell is happening.”
The mass cancellation of international flights at JFK Airport, one of the busiest airports in the United States, is one of several issues to throttle the air travel sector in recent months.
Severe winter weather prompted nationwide delays and cancellations for Southwest Airlines during the hectic Christmas travel season; the company nixed some 16,700 flights between December 21 and December 31, according to a filing submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Federal Aviation Administration, also known as the FAA, then grounded all flights nationwide early on January 11 as the agency’s Notice to Air Missions system unexpectedly failed. Officials later determined that “personnel unintentionally deleted files while working to correct synchronization between the live primary database and a backup database.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who previously took months of paid leave as a supply chain crisis hamstrung the economy and vacationed in Portugal as the possibility of a nationwide rail strike loomed, has received criticism from both Democrats and Republicans over his job performance. Calls for accountability from the former presidential candidate reemerged as a Chinese surveillance balloon traversed the entire continental United States and a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, threatened the small town with a severe chemical fallout.
Republicans especially have contended that Buttigieg has misplaced priorities. One analysis from The Daily Wire observed that the Transportation Department has prioritized “institutionalizing equity” at the agency under Buttigieg’s tenure.