Nearly One-Third of Flights Into LAX Canceled, Delayed
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ American Airlines Flight 231 landed in Los Angeles 90 minutes late Thursday, touching down in a smouldering city where thick brown skies delayed nearly every plane and kept hundreds from landing.
Travelers who did arrive safely said they would stay away from the riot- torn sections. The acquittal of four white police officers in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King touched off a wave of riots.
″I’m a little bit nervous about coming here today,″ said business traveler Kathy Lamers, who was on the flight from San Jose, 400 miles north. ″I was going to go in the office, but it’s in Compton and my boss told me to stay away. ... I’ll just work out of my hotel and stay low.
″I’m leaving tomorrow. Then, I guess, I can start breathing easier.″
When Flight 231 landed, the pilot issued a warning: ″All passengers should be sensitive to the area east of the airport. There is civil unrest.″
Cab driver Mohammed Habib, who moved to Los Angeles from Africa four years ago, said he feared running into an angry mob.
″It’s not safe for anyone,″ he said. ″This is sad for everyone.″
Tom Winfrey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles International Airport, said the smoke-filled skies delayed most planes one to three hours, and hundreds were rerouted to other cities as LAX set up an ocean-landing pattern.
The airport normally requires planes to arrive and depart only from the Pacific side at night to reduce nighttime noise. On Thursday, LAX kept the ocean-approach policy in effect all day because of vision-obscuring smoke and because airport officials feared a plane might be hit by stray bullets.
″You’ve seen the TV reports,″ Winfrey said. ″Some people are just going nuts out there. We didn’t want to take any chances.″
Airlines canceled scores of flights, he said, and LAX was rerouting several planes each hour to airports in Ontario, San Francisco, Long Beach and Burbank.