More than 160 flights delayed at ABIA as storm hit

Snow at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Dec. 8, 2017. (Report It: David Brooks)
Snow at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Dec. 8, 2017. (Report It: David Brooks)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The “winter wonderland” of snowfall and ice surprising Central Texas also caused some major delays and cancellations at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport from Thursday night into Friday morning.

According to FlightAware, from 5 a.m. Thursday morning and on, not a single flight took off on time at ABIA. Some were delayed by only a few minutes, others by hours. After 9 p.m., when a bulk of the storm hit, the online flight tracking system shows nearly 25 flights out of the Austin airport were delayed including some by more than six or seven hours. The average delay was 1 hour, 1 minute and the average delay for flights leaving after 6 p.m. was 3 hours, 39 minutes.

Some viewers tell KXAN they sat on the tarmac for hours while the pilot told them the delays were due to failing de-icing equipment.

“Each airline is responsible for their own de-icing equipment, personnel and process so you’d need to contact the carrier for specifics about the equipment they have on hand and how frequently it is used,” said Kaela Harmon, spokeswoman for ABIA.

Alaska Airlines tells KXAN the deicing solution ran low and the planes required more of it than normal because of the snow coming down during the application process. American Airlines says they have three brand new deicing trucks at ABIA and it’s not unusual for delays to happen as the deicing process takes time.

Richard Hatfield, a former Delta Airlines pilot for more than 20 years helped explain why the deicing process can get tricky, especially at an airport that doesn’t need to use it very often.

“I think we have to keep in mind this is probably the first time this year that Bergstrom had the problem with the icing, they had not gone through the drills properly, next time will go smoother,” Hatfield said.

Research shows ice can add an additional 2,000 pounds to a large plane. So getting it off and keeping it off is a critical part of safe winter air travel.

“I think at Bergstrom there’s only two different companies that ice their own airplanes and the other icing is done by a third party, so that’s going to take more time because if you’re a third party, you’ve got two or three different airlines saying I need my planes de-iced,” Hatfield said.

Flights at Austin airport at noon Friday.
Flights at Austin airport at noon Friday.

 

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