LAX Becomes A Parking Lot
The fires also affected terminal facilities on Sunday, as Los Angeles International Airport officials opted to hold all takeoffs for about half an hour and then only resume departures on a limited basis. Early Sunday evening, FAA controllers at LAX were handling about half the normal hourly arrival rate of 70 aircraft. The reduction in the number of arriving flights was causing delays or cancellations in outbound flights. According to The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, once takeoffs resumed, aircraft were assigned rather unusual procedures, where they were climbing to an altitude of 5,000 feet or more over Santa Monica Bay VFR with apparently no radar coverage. At that point the Mojave facility would initiate radar service. By late afternoon the average delay was down to just over three hours, but the longest delays had grown to more than 16 hours. To increase its operational capability, controllers from the TRACON went to work at the LAX tower.