Blizzard forces Singapore Airlines A380 jumbo jet to land at small New York airport

Singapore Airlines A380

A Singapore Airlines flight bound for New York is the latest victim of a powerful blizzard that battered the US Northeast on Thursday (Jan 4).

Singapore Airlines said in a statement on Friday that SQ26 was forced to divert its flight for the John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York to the Stewart International Airport (SWF), some 128km north, due to Winter Storm Grayson.

The statement added that alternative ground transportation to New York would be arranged for affected passengers.

According to Flightradar24, the giant Airbus A380 plane landed at SWF’s snow covered runway at around 12.23pm local time (1.30am Singapore time on Jan 5).

CNBC reported that the plane’s 325 passengers were only seen disembarking more than four hours later at around 5pm (6am Singapore time).

According to Mr Manoel Gerlach, a passenger on the plane who was tweeting about his experience, airport officials were waiting to disembark the passengers with stairs.

CNBC mentioned in its report that the airport’s gates were not high enough to reach the doors of the double-deck plane.

News of the A380’s arrival sparked some debate online as to whether the airport would be able to accommodate the world’s biggest passenger plane.

“Why are you assuming we weren’t able to accommodate them?” was a response Stewart Airport gave to one of its critics on Twitter.

Mr Gerlach felt that, considering the circumstances, the Stewart airport handled the situation well. While he agreed the airport “was not made to deplane an A380 at peak efficiency”, he added that the airport staff did “a remarkably good job with the resources that they have”.

At around 6.28 square kilometres, SWF is roughly half the size of Changi Airport’s 13 square kilometres, and saw a footfall of around 137,000 in 2016, according to the US Department of Transportation. This is a small fraction of JFK’s 29 million passengers.

Thursday’s blizzard knocked out power for tens of thousands of people living in the Northeast of the United States, snarling travel amid a cold snap that has gripped much of the country for over a week and killed more than a dozen people.

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