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January 09, 2014

December ice storm cost DFW Airport $2 million

DFW Deicing 1

The ice storm that blanketed North Texas in December cost Dallas/Fort Worth Airport about $2 million.

Over 2,100 flights were canceled and 9,500 passengers stayed overnight at the terminals on cots during the ice storm which spanned several days, said DFW Airport executive vice president for operations Jim Crites. The airport obtained 450 hotel rooms at discounted rates for passengers and provided over 6,700 cups of coffee, bottles of water and snacks to stranded travelers.

"We did pretty well throughout the storm," Crites told the airport board at its monthly meeting on Thursday morning, adding "it was challenging to keep these runways open."

In the first two days of the storm, December 6 and 7, the airport had one to two runways operational. On December 8, four runways were operating with six of its seven runways cleared by December 9.

Airport chief executive Sean Donohue said he has asked the airport staff to find other ways to recoup the $2 million cost without asking for additional funding from the board.

Donohue also told the board he met with American Airlines' new chief operating officer Robert Isom a week after the storm to "compare notes" on the operations during the ice event.

"The next time there is a big storm, we are going to make sure the airport and the airlines are lock step in the preplanning stage," Donohue said.

Since American had drawn down its schedule dramatically during the storm, the airport did not need to focus on keeping as many runways open. In the future, resources can be allocated to other areas of the airport if staff knows the airlines only need two runways to accommodate their schedules, Donohue said.

Despite the inches of ice, Crites told the board that none of the airlines at DFW Airport reported any tarmac delays over three hours during the storm. Airlines face stiff government fines when flights have lengthy tarmac delays.

However, airlines have spent more days de-icing aircraft than usual so far this winter, Crites said. The airport plans for deicing activity between November 1 and March 31 and last year, at this time, airlines had only spent 15 to 20 days using de-icing fluid. This winter, airlines have used de-icing fluid on 50 days with another three months left in the usual winter season.

-Andrea Ahles

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