In Florida, anyone with a plane is flying away from Irma

September 8, 2017

The Category 4 hurricane has created a mass exodus in the skies as airlines and private pilots move out of harm’s way.

One of the biggest evacuations of aircraft on record is taking shape as airlines and private aircraft owners are moving their planes, and themselves, out of Hurricane Irma’s path.

At least 500 aircraft scheduled for flights into or out of the state will flee Friday and Saturday depending on the storm’s direction, according to Mead & Hunt. As many as 210 planes that normally stay overnight in Florida would be among those shuttled out.

The Federal Aviation Administration said its Miami-based traffic controllers handled 11,530 flights on Thursday, compared with 8,847 the same day a week earlier.


Airlines typically cancel flights before major storms and move aircraft away so they aren’t stranded in closed airports or damaged by high winds, flying debris, collapsing facilities, or flood waters. The Irma displacements are “one of the biggest weather-related” movements, said Doug Blissit, an air services consultant for Mead & Hunt.

Even the biggest planes can become toys in the hands of Mother Nature’s wrath:

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