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RSW reopened at 8 p.m. Tuesday, nearly 10 hours after United jet blows two tires, shutting airport

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Mike Braun
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Special to WGCU
Southwest Florida International Airport was closed around 11 Tuesday morning until 8:15 p.m. Tuesday night after a United Airlines flight blew two tires upon landing.

Southwest Florida International Airport reopened shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, nearly 10 hours after a United Airlines flight blew two tires upon landing.

United Airlines and the Lee County Port Authority official confirmed the accident that happened shortly after 11 a.m. and caused no injuries but shutdown operations for the time being.

"They've already looked at the runway for damage," Victoria Moreland, director for public affairs for the port authority, said. "Now they need to move the airplane away from the runway."

A release from United Media Relations said "Our aircraft experienced two flat tires during landing. All passengers deplaned safely and were bused to the terminal. We are working as quickly as possible to move the aircraft."

The plane in question was a Boeing 737-8 carrying 154 passengers and six crew members.

United said workers were bringing in a jack to move aircraft.

The piece of equipment arrived and the plane moved off the runway around 8 p.m. Moreland sent out a text message at 8:15 p.m.: "United removed aircraft. RSW open."

About an hour prior to the successful removal of the jet, a note from the airport on social media said United had taken the lead on moving the 737 and RSW " is doing everything we can to assist them. Once the plane is moved, we can resume operations. We apologize for the inconvenience that everyone has gone through today."

The closure caused widespread delays at RSW as well as airports around the country.

Nadine Ianello of Shoreham, New York, was waiting with her small white dog Mia for her JetBlue flight to come in and didn't know what had happened.

"We got here, we had not idea what was going on but we saw that out flight was delayed and delayed and delayed, and we're flying JetBlue" she said. "We wondered why there were no flights coming in or out and we saw that plan sitting there."

Ianello said she and her husband were just waiting for a flight to come in from LaGuardia in New York.

"I'm just packing up my stuff and seeing if we can get a flight, if they can put us on a flight in the morning we'll do that," she said.

Meanwhile, Ianello's poochy companion, who had a $250 nonrefundable ticket, slept through all the commotion, snug in her dog carrier.

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