Airport gets kudos for snow removal

By Ed Runyan


Efforts of the snow- removal crew at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport caught the attention of pilots flying throughout Northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania in recent weeks.

In a reversal of the normal snow patterns of the region, the airport in Vienna received 44.5 inches of snow so far this month, well above the amount recorded in Cleveland (11.9 inches), and Erie, Pa. (10.9 inches), according to the National Weather Service.

Nonetheless, pilots changed their destination from airports in Cleveland, Ashtabula and Erie, Pa., eight times to the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport over the past two weeks because the local airport had the least snow-covered runways, said Don Taylor, general manager of Winner Aviation, a fuel-handler and service provider here.

“We had the worst snow conditions but the best runways,” Taylor said.

The Western Reserve Port Authority approved a resolution at Wednesday’s meeting that commended Jack Sullivan, maintenance and operations superintendent, and his six-person crew for keeping the runways and taxiways clear during the record snowfall.

“They made us look good compared to other airports,” Taylor said, adding that having additional flights here probably increased revenue for Winner and the airport by $10,000 to $15,000.

Sullivan said his crew worked 12-hour days most of the month.

“Being short-staffed kind of helped,” Sullivan said, explaining that he knows his crew of six drivers isn’t large enough to clear large amounts of snow quickly, so he had drivers working consistently throughout the period.

“I don’t have enough people to catch up, so I have to stay ahead of the game,” he said.

The local airport has the equivalent of 87 lane miles of asphalt to clear, which is roughly eight times as much as an average township road department handles, Sullivan said.

The local airport didn’t have any diversions to other airports and remained open all through this month except for a couple 30-minute “white-outs” when no flights needed to land, Sullivan said.

As the local airport’s flight numbers continue to climb with increased service to Florida and Myrtle Beach from Allegiant Air, it’s important to maintain a reputation for reliability, Sullivan said.

“You have to keep your reputation up that you’re open,” he said.