Florida flights are cancelled.
A Monarch airline flight from Newcastle, scheduled to leave at 8.15am tomorrow, has been scrapped because of the devastating storm creating 140mph winds.
A returning flight due in Newcastle in the early hours of Sunday is not expected to go-ahead.
Carl Bevan, duty manager for Newcastle Airport, said: "The 8.15am flight from Newcastle to Florida has been cancelled. Passengers are advised to contact their tour operators.
"Holidaymakers in Florida due to return on the flight which would have arrived at Newcastle in the early hours of Sunday morning are not expected to leave on time.
"No final decision has been made. A best-case scenario is the flight will be delayed but alternatively they may be looking at a few extra days holiday."
The second weekly direct flight from Newcastle to Florida run by Thomas Cook airlines departed as scheduled yesterday and the return flight arrived in Newcastle two hours delayed at 7am today.
Other passengers flying indirectly from Newcastle to Florida or the Bahamas, where the storm is expected to hit later in the weekend, can expect delays or cancellations at London airports.
Both Orlando and Tampa airports were due to close today and are not expected to reopen until after the weekend as 2.5 million residents were told to clear out ahead of what could be the most powerful storm to hit the state in a decade.
People in the 300-mile stretch covered by the hurricane warning have rushed to fortify their homes with plywood and storm shutters, and buy water, gas and canned food.
Other airlines including Virgin, British Airways and Thomas Cook have cancelled flights from the UK.
A spokeswoman for Newcastle Airport said: "The Monarch flight was supposed to go out tomorrow but Orlando airport is closing for about three days at the moment. This is also going to affect people flying out to Miami.
"The advice to anybody is to check with your travel agent or tour operator."
At midnight, the hurricane was 1,000 miles across, or about as big as the state of Texas, centred 355 miles south east of West Palm Beach and was moving north west at 10 mph. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 80 miles from its centre.
This could be the first time since 1950 that two major storms have hit Florida so close together. Last month hurricane Charley splintered billions of dollars-worth of homes, knocked out power to hundreds of thousands and killed 27 people when it tore across the state.
For further information contact (0870) 1221 488.
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|Publication:||Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Sep 3, 2004|
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