This week: Qantas, east coast storm and stranded Everest tourists

Well, what can I say? For the first time in the history of the weekly LateDeparture airport news round-ups, I decide to take a leave of absence for a couple days. Plus – and this really was the big mistake – I decide to pre-write the news without a disclaimer of when it was written. Naively I thought, what can possibly shake up the airport world in the 3 days I’m away? Oh dearie-me, how wrong was I? One day into my leave (note, I didn’t even have any means of communication at all), the Australian carrier Qantas decides to ground its entire fleet worldwide. Thousands of passengers got stranded across the globe while Irish-born Alan Joyce – the airline’s CEO – bet on a solution to its ongoing, costly disputes with the unions. He got his way, even though they say it’s not yet entirely over, but further threats of future strikes from the unions are out of the way for the moment.

Then in other news this week, Canada’s airports caught our attention twice: First up was Canada’s 8th busiest (and probably the one with the longest name), Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (IATA: YWG). This week the airport unveiled its new 51,000 square-meter terminal replacing the 46 year old former structure. In a Winnipeg Sun article Barry Rempel, president and CEO of Winnipeg Airports Authority, called the day “momentous.”

The second Canadian news was a bit less serious but surely equally if not more interesting: Over in Vancouver, 29 year old Jaeger Mah finished his 80 day stay at Vancouver International airport (IATA: YVR). The Canadian won the gig in an airport contest to mark its 80th year. Read the full story in our feature report from Friday: 80 days at the airport without flying anywhere.

The other side of North America also had its news moment this week when during the last days of October an unprecedented winter storm hit the east coast. According to the L.A. Times, power outages were affecting more than 2.3 million residents and businesses from Maryland to Massachusetts, including more than half a million in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. As you can imagine, airports across the region were also severely affected. quoted the tracking site which reported nearly 600 flights to Northeastern airports canceled, including destinations such as Philadelphia (IATA: PHL), New York (IATA: JFK), Newark (IATA: EWR), Boston (IATA: BOS) and others.

And finally we received note from a remote area where over 2,000 tourists got stranded due to bad weather: the Himalayan or more precisely Tenzing-Hillary Airport (IATA: LUA) in Lukla, Nepal. According to the Indian Express, the foreign tourists, most of them from the US, UK and Germany have been stranded near a Mount Everest base camp for the last six days facing a shortage of food and medicines. Authorities had to close the only airstrip serving Lukla due to bad weather.

Have a great new, delay-free week, everyone!

[Picture from Wikipedia – some rights reserved]