Orlando International Airport to resume passenger flights after Ian’s departure

Flights will begin after 12:00 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30

The line for security checks was near empty at Orlando International Airport Wednesday morning, less than an hour away from when airport officials said the last flight would take off ahead of Hurricane Ian’s expected impacts.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando International Airport announced on Thursday evening that passenger flights will resume after 12 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30.

The decision was made after conferring with the National Weather Service and federal partners, the airport announced.

The airport’s Twitter post asked travelers not to arrive for their departure prior to 10 a.m. so they can “prepare the working areas to better serve our customers.”

They ask passengers to check with their airline for the most up-to-date information on their flight status.

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All flights in and out of Orlando International Airport were cancelled Thursday, as nearly all roads leading to the airport were shut down for flooding from Hurricane Ian, though officials said they are starting to deal with the aftermath.

That last flight left around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, the time at which commercial operations ceased at OIA. Officials said they hope to resume operation sometime Friday, pending a damage assessment.

According to airport officials, crews have already begun “cautiously” assessing damages in the wake of Ian.

Federal employees with agencies like the TSA, Federal Aviation Administration, and Customs and Border Patrol will have to wait for approval before returning, which means the airport will need to wait until staffing levels are back to operational levels before reopening the terminal.

“Identifying damage throughout our entire complex is a time-consuming process,” CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Kevin Thibault said. “Not only do we have to inspect our terminals for damage, we also have to check all roadways, runways, ramps, gates, boarding bridges, garages and security systems. Once that is completed, we can begin restoration to ensure the facility is safe for employees and passengers to return.”

Wednesday, around 9 a.m., operations were wrapped at Southwest’s self check-in counters, protecting machines that would otherwise be close to entrance doors and susceptible to wind and rain.

According to the latest information from the airport’s website, the venue will not close in its entirety, leaving room to accept emergency and aid-relief flights if necessary.

However, officials told people not to come to OIA because it is not a shelter. Due to that fact, approximately 100 airport guests were taken from the airport to nearby shelters to ride out the storm, officials said.

It’s not known when flight operations will resume at OIA, though officials targeted Friday to continue limited operations.

“Depending on timing and the storms impact to the complex, with the help of our dedicated staff, we hope to have Orlando International up and running again on a limited basis this Friday,” GOAA Chairman Carson Good said.

As Hurricane Ian continues on a path toward Florida, Orlando International Airport and other area airports announced they are stopping operations on Wednesday morning. According to the Orlando International Airport’s website on Tuesday, flights and operations will stop at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28.

A man at the airport said he was enjoying a vacation with his family on Tuesday when he got evacuation orders, leaving his hotel in Clearwater to find new trouble trying to get a flight before the storm.

“We were in Clearwater originally, then we got evacuated from the hotel over there, so I changed my flight to Orlando and that got canceled last night at 10 p.m. with United, so Southwest is still going on,” he said.

OIA’s parking facilities closed at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday as well, officials said.

Once operations start up again, officials urge passengers to contact their airlines and rental car companies to deal with flight rescheduling and returning rental vehicles.

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About the Authors:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.