KEEPING the busiest airport in the North East open during the recent snowy weather has cost more than £500,000.
Newcastle International closed for only 17 hours out of the close on 600 hours during which snowfall could have caused runway problems.
But large amounts of de-icing liquid and grit had to be spread across the tarmac, with staff working around the clock to keep the airport open.
Around £27,000 has been spent on each day that the airport stayed open for the full 24 hours between December 17 and yesterday.
Chief executive Dave Laws said: “All our staff put in an enormous amount of effort to keep the runway, taxiways and aircraft stands operational, as well as keeping our customers fully informed. I have worked at the airport for 30 years and don’t think I have ever seen weather conditions quite as severe as they were in recent weeks.
“Colleagues have on many occasions worked around the clock to ensure that this weather disrupted as few passengers as possible over the Christmas and New Year period, and I am extremely proud of their efforts and commitment.
“Of course, we are still in the middle of winter and this current thaw will not make us complacent. We remain on standby and I am sure our staff will respond equally efficiently if snow hits the region again”
The airport’s snow team is made-up of nine dedicated staff, while a further 12 workers were drafted in to help keep it open during the cold snap.
On the most severe days, the senior management team worked through the night to ensure all areas were kept safe and suitable for use.
A series of snow ploughs are on stand-by at the airport in case more poor weather strikes.
Page 2 - More supplies of grit shipped in >>
More supplies of grit shipped in
CONSIGNMENTS of grit have been shipped to the North East in preparation for another bout of icy weather.
With more snow predicted, some grit was delivered to council depots yesterday and they expect more by the end of the week.
Steve Keetley of Durham County Council, said they had been prudent with our supplies" and are "able to continue to pre-salt our A and B category network while stocks remain".
Northumberland has 3,600 tonnes of salt after yesterday’s delivery, which is enough for between seven and 28 days, depending on the weather conditions.
Gateshead Council has enough supplies to deal with several days of further severe weather, while South Tyneside has just 300 tonnes, which are expected to last until the end of the week. North Tyneside Council says it has enough to deal with predicted conditions, based on Met Office estimates.
Concern had been mounting in Newcastle, where neighbourhood grit bins are empty and supplies were running low ahead of yesterday’s snowfall. But 200 tonnes arrived yesterday, with a further 200 tonnes promised for today.
The Met Officer predicts today’s weather will be frosty and icy, with sleet and snow falling during the course of the day, sometimes heavily and especially over hilly areas of the region.
The maximum temperature will be 2C, the minimum -4C, and there is expected to be heavy snow tonight.