Delays at SFO expected this month due to runway closures

Getty Images File PhotoThe $383 million runway enhancement project will close a runway at SFO three weekends this month. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2015.

Getty Images File PhotoThe $383 million runway enhancement project will close a runway at SFO three weekends this month. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2015.

Weekend travelers using San Francisco International Airport can expect flight delays this month.

As part of a federally mandated improvement project, the hub will shut down a runway for three weekends this month. The first closure will start at 10 p.m. Jan. 11 and last until 8 a.m. Jan. 14. Similar shutdowns are scheduled for the following two weekends.

Because of the work, SFO will only be able to handle about 30 flights an hour, down from its normal rate of 60, according to spokesman Doug Yakel. The runway closure will have the biggest impact on passengers flying within a two-hour radius of SFO, which mostly pertains to short-haul flights up and down the coast, Yakel said. Those flights are likely to be delayed, but the work also could affect carriers traveling to and from longer distances, according to Yakel.

“We’re really advising passengers to check their flights for any delays, even if the weather appears to be fine at the airport,” he said.

The closures scheduled this month stem from safety upgrades required by the Federal Aviation Administration. Crews will install new threshold areas, runway lighting systems and navigational aids to comply with the FAA’s Runway Safety Area Program standards.

The three weekend closures — which will shut down SFO’s 28L runway — are not the only ones planned this year. The 28L runway will also be closed June 25 and June 26. The 28R runway, which is parallel to 28L, will be shut down for all four weekends in April and for two days at the end of June.

Runway closures also are scheduled to occur sometime in 2014.

Yakel said the closures were timed to coincide with slow travel months and times of day. SFO is typically busiest in August and during the winter holiday months, Yakel said.

The $383 million runway enhancement project began in 2012 and is projected to be completed by 2015.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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