Crews at BIA take snowstorm in stride

Posted March 02, 2009, at 9:19 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11:03 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — From the concourse at Bangor International Airport late Monday morning, would-be passengers could barely make out the outline of planes through the driving snow on the runway.

For Lynna Tupica, Monday’s snowstorm meant a brief delay of her vacation to Florida. By late morning, the Bangor woman’s flight on Allegiant Air from Bangor International Airport to Sanford, Fla., had been pushed from 12:25 p.m. to about 2 p.m.

“I thought it would be canceled,” she said from a seat inside BIA. “I don’t mind waiting a little bit. If it gets worse and I have to go home, it’s only five minutes away. I picked a good time to leave though.”

Others were not as lucky.

Stephanie Michaels, traveling with her 8-year-old son, Jeff, had their Delta flight to New York, canceled and were debating about whether to find another flight or stay in Maine another night. From New York, they were supposed to catch a connecting flight home to Miami.

“My mom doesn’t like the cold,” Jeff said, plenty eager to talk about his recent visit with family in Maine. “I got to go sledding yesterday. We don’t get snow at my house.”

Michaels said if they did have to stay in Bangor another night, it wouldn’t be a problem, but she was eager to get back home to Florida.

“He’s right,” she said, nodding toward her son. “This is one of the reasons I left Maine.”

Many flights out of BIA were delayed significantly Monday while others were canceled outright. Delta canceled most of its flights. Most Continental and Allegiant flights had delays.

Airport Director Rebecca Hupp said it’s up to individual airlines to decide whether to cancel flights, but she said the facility’s runways were in good condition all morning.

“We assess conditions continuously throughout the day as part of our snow removal process,” she said.

BIA has an impressive snow removal system for its runways that involves numerous airport crew members operating vehicles lent from the adjacent Maine Air National Guard base. It’s a relationship that allows BIA to handle snow and inclement weather much more easily than a facility in say, Newark, N.J., or Philadelphia.

Hupp explained that many delays from BIA are the result of poor conditions at destinations, rather than conditions in Bangor. In a lot of cases, she said, airports will require greater separation between flights coming and going. In other words, airports will allow planes more time to take off or land, which can create delays.

“We have sufficient personnel and equipment to handle most storms,” Hupp said.

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