Logan Blasts Carriers for Canceling Flights

Feb. 16--Logan International Airport officials have a stern message for US airlines: Quit being such snow wimps.

Last weekend's blizzard led US carriers to cancel more than 90 percent of Sunday domestic flights in and out of Logan. But all Logan's international flights that day operated without delays or diversions, according to the Massachusetts Port Authority.

That disparity rankles Massport chairman John A. Quelch, who gave an unusual public zing to US carriers at a Massport board meeting yesterday.

"Our international carriers seem to better recognize our ability to stay open than our domestic carriers do," said Quelch, a British-born Harvard Business School professor. All three British Airways flights due to land during the 17-inch snowstorm, did so almost exactly on time, Quelch said, while balky US carriers were canceling flights in droves.

"It's a little bit disappointing that they don't recognize the special capabilities that we have to serve Logan during times of snow," Quelch said, which earned Logan a national airport snow removal award last year. Massport chairman Craig P. Coy said even with heavy snow and periodic "white-out conditions," Logan "never closed once." Airline decisions, not Massport plow operators' failure to keep runways open, caused all flight cancellations Sunday and catch-up delays Monday.

Airline officials contacted all took a pass on tangling with Massport, their powerful landlord at Logan. Some who spoke on the condition they did not want to be named because of their relationship with Massport said that it's hard to compare their performance because US and international carriers operate far different businesses.

An airline flying one or two planes a day from snowless London or Paris to Boston, some officials noted, will have an easier time keeping a schedule than one flying 100 flights a day out of Logan that has to count on planes being able to get in from dozens of US cities, some snowbound, to take Logan passengers back out.

Also, many people who would fly those planes were stuck at home in the snow. On Sunday, just 30 percent of American Airlines employees based at the three New York airports got to work.

"We try to err on the side of safety for our passengers and flight crews" when deciding whether to cancel flights, American spokesman Ned Raynolds said, adding that many American pilots and flight crews "just couldn't get their cars out of their driveways."