Due to widespread air traffic delays across the country, weather and increased flight traffic in and out of Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, passengers dealt with several flight delays, diversions and at least one flight cancellation over the holidays.

At least five specific commercial flights—two Alaska Airlines, two United and one Delta—were diverted when trying to land at Friedman Memorial Airport due to long air traffic delays during the period between Dec. 21 and Jan. 4. In total, the airport had 42 flight diversions in December, most due to weather.

According to airport Manager Chris Pomeroy, Delta and United flights get diverted to Twin Falls and Alaska flights get diverted to Boise.

Pomeroy explained to the Airport Authority board on Tuesday night that due to the increase in aircraft arrivals and departures at Friedman over the holidays, along with other delays across the country, a snowball effect set in, causing delays and diversions at the Hailey airport, noting that because Friedman is a public-use airport and receives federal funding, it is open to all users, commercial and private.

The FAA has jurisdiction over all aircraft operating within the National Airspace System and manages the air traffic control functions within the U.S. Through the FAA, air traffic control is based on a first-come, first-served basis.

“There is no preferential treatment—a commercial airline and a private jet are considered equitable aeronautical operations,” Pomeroy wrote in response to a complaint about a flight cancelation by Alaska Airlines on Dec. 27. “The first to arrive within SUN airspace will receive clearance to land first.”

Airlines may choose to divert due to low fuel or crew members’ exceeding their prescribed time limits when aircraft are put into a holding pattern due to weather or other circumstances, causing some flights to be canceled altogether.

While there isn’t much that passengers can do to avoid flight delays and diversions, Pomeroy said customers can monitor their flight status through their airlines, and information on the busing program between Hailey and Twin Falls is available on the airport’s website along with contact information to inquire about up-to-date flight information from each airline.

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