WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Employees at Wichita’s airport are working overtime to keep flights running smoothly. If you have travel plans given the current weather, be sure to pack your patience.
Wichita Airport Authority Operations Manager Brian Cowles said his team is working 24 hours a day to get and keep the runways clear.
“It can get very very trying when you have a limited staff and an event that’s going to last for an extended duration,” said Cowles.
When cold weather comes, runway workers go into overdrive.
“When you realize how important your job is, it puts it into perspective and we understand, okay, I need to be here,” said Cowles. “You know I can’t let my duties go, there are hundreds and thousands of people that depend on us doing our job correctly.”
In two days, the team poured 32,000 gallons of de-icing liquid onto the runways. Cowles said keeping them clear is crucial.
“If they try landing on an icy surface, then what ends up happening is aircraft skids, and if there’s not enough surface, they just get off the end of the runway potentially injuring passengers and the crew that is on the aircraft or anybody around the airport,” said Cowles.
The goal is to keep two of the three runways open, but when the weather gets severe, that becomes a challenge.
“There are times where we get a bad storm we end up going down to one, just because we don’t have the crew in resources to be able to fight a really heavy storm,” said Cowles.
For now, everything is running smoothly. As for the airlines, it may take extra time as they have to de-ice their planes. When that happens, expect to sit for an extra 30 minutes.
Cowles said the best thing flyers can do is to sit back and relax.
“Come to the airport with a little bit more patience than what you normally would and understand we’re doing everything we possibly can to get you where you want to be, safely,” said Cowles.