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Beijing, Shanghai flights canceled over Sandy

By Xu Wei in Beijing and Shi Yingying  (China Daily)

09:40, October 31, 2012

At least two tourist groups left stranded in NY, Washington

Flights from China to the northeastern United States were canceled and at least two tourist groups were left stranded by Hurricane Sandy on Tuesday.

Sandy, one of the biggest storms to hit the US, swept the nation's East Coast, forcing the closure of a number of airports.

At least six flights by three Chinese airlines bound for New York and Washington from Beijing and Shanghai were canceled.

Tian Lu, a spokesman for the Shanghai Airport Authority, which operates both the city's airports, said: "We don't have too many stranded passengers at Pudong and Hongqiao International Airports (due to Hurricane Sandy) as only a few cities in the US were affected by the hurricane."

There were no stranded passengers at Beijing Capital International Airport, as "airlines sent flight cancellation messages to passengers beforehand", said an employee at the airport, who requested anonymity.

Air China and China Eastern Airlines canceled their Tuesday flights to New York. United Airlines said its flights to Newark, Washington and Chicago from Monday to Wednesday were affected.

Cathay Pacific canceled its daily flights from Hong Kong to New York and from New York to Hong Kong from Monday to Wednesday. A statement said: "The current closure of JFK airport underscores the storm's significant impact on New York City. It may take some time for the airport to become fully functional again ... this may take longer than expected."

Tian Tongsheng, manager of a consultancy company in Beijing, said he already taken Sandy into account when he was booking a flight to New York. "I thought Sandy would strike earlier and I tried to postpone my flight until Wednesday. Now my flight on Wednesday is still uncertain," he said.

At least two tourist groups from China were stranded on the US East Coast as the storm played havoc with schedules.

Cong Lin, a manager at the North America branch of China Travel Service, a Beijing-based travel agency, said: "The US East Coast is not a hot tourist destination after the National Day holiday and currently we only have one tourist group stranded there." Cong said the group of more than 10 tourists are staying at a hotel in New York and she has no immediate fears for their safety.

"Some of the tourists are very anxious as they wished to come back earlier and we are trying to calm them down," she said.

Ge Jingwen, manager of Shanghai travel agency SAL Tour's America department, said one of her groups, comprising 40 Chinese tourists who left from Shanghai, were stranded in Washington. "We're waiting for more information from the local airport, but their travel plans in the next few days will be affected," she said.

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