At least 23 flights between Los Angeles International Airport and Chicago were canceled Friday because of a fire at a suburban Chicago air traffic control facility.
At least eight flights from LAX to Chicago were scrubbed, and 15 flights from Chicago to Los Angeles were canceled due to the fire, which was allegedly set by a contract employee from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The cancellations began at 6 a.m. West Coast time and impacted three airlines: Southwest, American and Alaska, LAX spokesman Marshall said.
A ground delay program at O’Hare and Midway airports that was instituted because of the fire would likely continue all day, Lowe said.
“This means that the canceled flights in and out of LAX will have to be rescheduled at some point today,” he said, adding that travelers should contact their airlines about possible delays.
At Orange County’s John Wayne Airport, some United and American airlines flights to and from Chicago were canceled, and there were “multiple delays” for those airlines and Southwest, according to airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge.
Travelers should expect “significant delays” for flights scheduled through Chicago, said Wedge said travelers should expected significant delays for flights scheduled through Chicago, and advised people to check with their airlines.
Airline officials are issuing some refunds and re-booking travelers, she said.
The early morning fire forced the evacuation of the control center in Aurora, Illinois, about 40 miles west of downtown Chicago, and temporarily shutdown all incoming and outgoing flights to the airports, causing a wave of cancellations and delays throughout the system, according to authorities.
Responding emergency crews found the man suspected of setting the fire in the basement where the fire began, suffering from self-inflicted knife wounds, and took him to a hospital, according to reports from the area. The fire was being investigated by the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
A motive for the fire was not immediately known but Aurora Police Chief Gregory Thomas said the FAA contract employee was not connected to terrorism, according to The Associated Press.