Airport Head Says Cleveland Hopkins Will Be Kept Clear And Safe For Winter Flyers

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By ideastream's Brian Bull

An airport official at Cleveland-Hopkins assures travelers that runways will be kept clear of snow and ice this winter.  The announcement comes as the airport ramps up winter preparedness measures and is disputing safety concerns over snow clearing during the last two winters.

Fred Szabo is the Interim Director for the Airport.  He says preparations and drills have been underway for the past few months, which includes hiring in all necessary ground staff and supervisors.

“There’s a grand total of 117 individuals that comprise the snow team,” he explains. “And that’s made up of three basic divisions: Field maintenance, which are the plow operators, vehicle maintenance, of course they maintain all the snow removal equipment; and airport operations which basically is the snow command for the airport.”

Szabo adds that crews are able to clear a 11,000-ft runway in less than 15 minutes. 

“And that’s critically important for a snow removal operation.”

Meanwhile, the City of Cleveland is still contesting a series of violations and fines imposed by the FAA from the previous 2 years.  The FAA acknowledged receiving the city’s 17-page letter disputing four incidents that happened between December 2013 and early March this year. 

Szabo says there will be an informal conference next month with FAA officials where he hopes to rectify the situation.

“We want to discuss those specific issues, number one. And number two, talk about our plans for the coming year and it’s our hope that that fine would either be reduced or eliminated.”

The FAA fined the city $735,000 for the violations. 

As to the winter ahead, Szabo says forecasts suggest a milder winter than the previous ones, though he says forecasts can always turn out differently than predicted.  He adds that airport crews will be at the ready for anything.

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