Blizzard snarls air traffic at JFK, as 2 planes collide and hundreds of flights are delayed

Key Points
  • A pair of passenger jets collided on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy airport early Saturday as airport authorities struggled to get a handle on air traffic after the blizzard.
  • The wing of a China Southern plane grazed the tail of a Kuwait aircraft, damaging both vessels.
  • Port Authority officials reported no injuries and said that all passengers exited the planes safely.
JetBlue airplanes wait at the gates outside terminal five at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 4, 2018 in the Queens borough of New York City. A winter storm is traveling up the east coast of the United States dumping snow and creating blizzard like conditions in many areas.
Getty Images

Two airplanes collided on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy Airport early Saturday morning amid rampant delays caused by a powerful Northeast winter storm.

Officials told NBC News New York that a China Southern aircraft's right wing grazed the tail of a Kuwait Airways vessel, damaging both planes. Port Authority officials said no injuries were reported and that all passengers were able to safely disembark, NBC reported.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the China Southern plane was being towed during the collision, which occurred just after midnight. It carried no passengers, officials told the news outlet.

The Kuwait Airways flight was parked ahead of takeoff when the planes collided, the airline said on Twitter.Kuwait's passengers were transported to nearby hotels to await new flight arrangements as New York authorities investigated the incident, the airline added.

The collision came on top of lengthy and extensive delays throughout JFK Airport, brought on by a powerful blizzard that wreaked havoc on the East Coast in the first week of the new year.

The Port Authority attributed the delays to a backlog of flights, hundreds of which were cancelled ahead of the storm. JFK logged over 350 cancellations on Friday and another 53 as of 11 a.m. ET on Saturday, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.

Since Friday, outraged passengers have been taking to Twitter to air out frustrations with the delays. A countless number have been forced to wait for hours on both arriving and departing planes.

"@JFKairport. we landed 5 hours ago & are still waiting on luggage at baggage claim! Not a single staff member to be seen, no announcements made about what to expect. All after being stuck on the tarmac for 3+ hours waiting for a place to park. Unacceptable customer service!" one passenger tweeted.

The incident followed a Friday scare at JFK, in which an American Airlines flight was forced to land shortly after takeoff because of a mechanical issue.

All told, FlightAware reported that more than 1,500 U.S. flights were cancelled on Friday, while almost 5,700 were delayed. JFK ranked No. 1 among destination airports for the most cancellations and delays.

As of early Saturday, nearly 300 flights within, into or out of the United States were cancelled and over 1,204 were delayed.

The Port Authority — which manages JFK, New Jersey's Newark International and New York City's LaGuardia — also warned of traffic congestion in and around those two travel hubs. The agency issued a warning that only confirmed fliers should attempt outbound travel from LaGuardia.