Thursday, December 14, 2000

Storm closes 2 runways here

Airport stays open; half of flights scrubbed

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HEBRON — Wednesday's snowstorm forced officials at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to use just one runway for the first time in three years.

        But the airport stayed open, and all three runways were clear for most of the afternoon.g

        Spokesman Ted Bushelman said about half of the airport's daily 1,140-flight schedule was scratched because of the weather but could not estimate how many travelers were affected.

        Officials from Delta Air Lines and Comair would not give specific cancellation numbers for Wednesday. Trans World Airlines scrubbed all their Cincinnati flights because planes couldn't get out of that airline's St. Louis hub.

        “Even with one runway, we can take anything they throw at us, with as many flights that were canceled,” Mr. Bushelman said.

        Standard procedure during a storm is to clear one runway for takeoffs and landings and then use it while another is cleared, and then switch back and forth as long as necessary.

        Each sweep of a runway costs about $4,000 because of the cost of the potassium acetate used to melt ice and snow. Salt is not allowed because it can corrode aluminum aircraft parts.

        Mr. Bushelman said he expect ed part 2 of the storm Wednesday night — which was predicted to bring a mix of snow and sleet — to cost the airport about $60,000, including crew overtime. The airport has not had to spend that kind of money since 1997 because the past two winters have been milder than normal. The funds were returned to airlines who pay landing fees — the main source of revenue for the airport, while the 1997 storm cost the airport $25,000.

        Mr. Bushelman said the last time the airport closed for more than an hour was during the blizzard of 1977.

        He also said he did not expect any stranded passengers at the airport past 9 p.m., with airlines rerouting travelers or putting them up at local hotels.

        All the hotels surrounding the airport were booked by midafternoon.

        “I'm letting all my airport information volunteers go home to beat the storm, because there's nowhere for them to stay around here,” Mr. Bushelman said.


ELECTION 2000 SPECIAL COVERAGE: Tristate reaction and impact from Al Gore's concession and George W. Bush's transition to the presidency, plus the latest news from Associated Press.

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