- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) - The Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is taking issue with Federal Aviation Administration claims that it failed to meet safety requirements during winter weather.

The federal agency has proposed civil penalties totaling $735,000 against the city of Cleveland. The FAA alleges airport managers failed to keep the airport’s runways and taxiways clear of snow and ice on multiple occasions during a 15-month period that ended in March.

In a letter to the FAA on Friday, airport managers contended that the violations didn’t occur or that the facts and circumstances don’t warrant the amount of the proposed penalties.

The city contends that at no point was the airport unsafe. Managers have said they plan to hire additional airfield employees to help clear snow and ice.

The FAA recently had sent four letters with findings on airport snow removal problems it says caused unsafe conditions and forced planes to divert to other airports.

“The alleged violations are technical in nature and did not create an unsafe environment,” attorney Jonathan McGory wrote to the FAA for the city. “At no point during any of these events did the city do anything to make the airport unsafe for the airlines or the traveling public.”

City officials say they have a new plan that will make sure staffing levels are available to keep runways clear, including keeping snowplow operators four hours past scheduled shifts if snow is indicated. They also are working with an employment agency and recruiting from trade schools and other aviation sectors to staff its airfield maintenance team, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported.

The city says the airport has a strong track record on safety.


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