A suspected Chinese spy balloon over the United States has grounded commercial flights for hours in an airspace at least 200 miles long, according to new statements from Billings Airport in Montana and a person familiar with the matter.
“Wednesday, Feb. 1 extended from Helena to Billings for about two hours from 1:30pm to 3:30pm.” “Since ground station was canceled there have been no issues or delays .”
A source familiar with the situation told CNN that the ground stop was for Defense Department activities.
During a briefing with reporters on Thursday, a senior defense official said, “We want to make sure we’re coordinating with civilian authorities to clear the airspace around that potential area” in case the military decides to shoot down the balloon.
The Federal Aviation Administration, whose control of the airspace ends at an altitude of 60,000 feet, declined to comment.
Pentagon press secretary Brig on Friday. Gen. Patrick Clyde told a briefing that the balloon was assessed to be about 60,000 feet above the ground.
Billings Airport said the impact on flights was minimal due to the timing of the incident.
“The ground stop occurred around 3:00 p.m. when there were very few flights at Billings Logan International Airport. A total of three flights were delayed; two inbound flights were diverted and arrived late in Billings, and one outbound United Airlines flight was also delayed,” the statement said.