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Heavy rain, hail washes over DIA again

5:49 PM, Jul 14, 2011   |    comments
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Hail damaged 40 planes from a number of airlines, but did not heavily damage DIA's structure. The damage led to a series of delayed and cancelled flights starting Wednesday night, spilling over into Thursday.

Frontier Airlines says 18 planes have been grounded because of damage. Some of the damage was minor and some more severe. The airline had to cancel a number of flights Thursday because of the damaged planes, and that is causing four-hour delays in some cases.

The airlines are urging people to check their flight status online, as phone lines have been swamped with callers.

Southwest Airlines told 9NEWS Thursday morning that 12 of their planes were outside during the hail storm Wednesday night. All were inspected. Three had damage and two are out of service. 


There were multiple reports of vehicle damage - both operational vehicles and some passenger vehicles. It is unknown at this time where those damaged vehicles were parked.

"[We are] still in the process of assessing the damage," DIA media relations spokesperson Laura Coale said.

DIA  has been experiencing cancellations and delays throughout the day Thursday. United Airlines cancelled at least 38 departures and 56 arrivals as of Thursday.

"Some airlines are operating just smoothly [Thursday] morning, and there are some others that are experiencing some delays and cancellations," Coale told 9NEWS.

The cancelled flights meant about 1,000 people spent the night at the airport on Wednesday. There were no cots or blankets for the travelers, because the airlines did not request the airport to "enact the stranded passenger plan."

According to Coale, the stranded passengers were "understanding [of the delays] due to weather and [were just] hoping to get on the next flight out."

Trains at DIA operated at maximum capacity through 1 a.m. to accommodate the passengers spending the night at the airport.

The FAA will be inspecting planes damaged in the storms and will not be releasing them to fly until the pass inspections and have been determined to be safe. For some planes, that could take four to five days.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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