The headlines about the 2016 Jonas Blizzard’s impact on the East Coast airports and airline schedules harkened back to the record-breaking $735,000 fine imposed by the FAA on Cleveland Hopkins International Airport for its understaffing for snow removal. Did that high profile FAA enforcement case serve to incentivize other airports to avoid the CLE problems?
While an FAA use of its new compliance program and the agreement on appropriate remedial actions would have been better, CLE airport management seems to have implemented a better staffing plan, purchased new equipment and practiced its emergency response procedures. The 2015 Cleveland snow was a 38.9” accumulation with a four person crew instead of the 18 planned.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts that North East Ohio may be challenger in 2016.
Just as a point of reference, how are the East Coast Airports faring in 2016. Washington Dulles International (29”) and smaller Washington National (14.8”) are both closed the day after the blizzard stopped.
JFK, LaGuardia, Newark all were able to handle limited flights on on Sunday January 24.
Perhaps the most interesting point of reference may be the Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport. There the flight cancellations continued through Sunday. Ricky Smith Sr., BWI’s new executive director of the Maryland Aviation Administration, which oversees BWI, used to be the Director at CLE.
Snow and its impact on an airport are difficult to forecast; however, closed runways translate into zero revenues for both the landlord and its tenant airlines. As the state and local emergency responses have demonstrated, preparation is a critical element to success. There are lots of cost pressures on airport management and staffing for snow removal is an easy reduction; SO LONG AS THERE ARE NO STORMS FORECASTED. Revenues are susceptible to marginal utility calculations; reduction of safety margins has a very larger risk factor when calculating the benefit/cost ratio for snow removal staffing.