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Airlines cancel hundreds of flights as hurricane hits US

Airlines are canceling hundreds of flights as Hurricane Matthew sweeps along the Florida coast.

The Fort Lauderdale airport shut down on Thursday morning, and further north the Orlando airport expected to do the same by nighttime.

Walt Disney World said its theme parks and other attractions in Orlando were shutting down Thursday afternoon and would remain closed through Friday.

Universal Studios Orlando also was closing Thursday, with plans to resume regular operations on Saturday.

By midday, flight-tracking service FlightAware.com reported that nearly 1,500 flights within the U.S. had been scrapped, with the largest numbers at Fort Lauderdale and Miami. American Airlines, which has a major hub in Miami, was the hardest-hit carrier, followed by Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways.

FlightAware says airlines have already canceled nearly 1,300 flights scheduled for Friday.

Airlines often cancel flights before storms hit to prevent passengers from being stranded at airports and to keep their planes in position to recover after the bad weather passes.

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