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FAA opens runway in New Orleans

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(CNN) -- Officials opened one runway at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Louisiana on Tuesday to emergency flights for Katrina relief, according to a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

"Runway 19 opened for emergency services at about 1:10 p.m. Central," said Roland Herwig, an FAA spokesman for the southwest region that includes Louisiana.

Emergency flights will operate only during daylight, Herwig said.

All airports in the New Orleans area were closed to commercial service Tuesday and also may be closed Wednesday.

"We'll have to see," Herwig said. "We're taking it a day at a time."

Katrina also has shut down Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Mississippi. FAA officials are in the process of assessing damage to control towers, communications facilities and navigational aides throughout the region affected by the storm.

"Of course, anyone who is planning to go to the impacted airports will not be going there and, other than that, the system seems to be working fairly well," said Kathleen Bergen, an FAA spokeswoman for the southern region, which includes Mississippi and Alabama.

Engine generators are powering equipment hit by widespread power and phone outages, Bergen said.

Temporary flight restrictions over New Orleans and the Alabama and Mississippi coastlines are in effect, allowing only air traffic related to rescue and relief operations. Those restrictions are in effect until further notice.

Airline industry analyst Michael Boyd expects air travel outside of the most devastated areas to get back to normal within about 24 hours. He does not expect the storm to have much of an impact on Labor Day travel.

"I don't think this will affect weekend travel except that which was focused on the Gulf Coast," he said.

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