The scary moments at the airport last Friday may have been on the minds of board members as the panel met with just 24 hours' notice to approve the purchase. After consecutive weekends of winter storms and the threat of a third, RDU is facing the potential of not having enough deicing supplies to keep the runways, taxiways, and terminal ramps safe enough for the aircraft.
"(Last weekend's storm) got us to the point where it severely impacted our ability to respond to the next storm," said RDU Chief Operating Officer Bill Sandifer. "It put us in a situation where quite frankly, as your chief operating officer, I got very nervous."
4 days after a Delta flight skidded off the taxiway at RDU during the winter storm, the airport’s de-icing supply is nearly gone. Tonight, RDU’s board votes to restock — But what happens if a third consecutive weekend winter storm arrives before the resupply? #abc11 pic.twitter.com/Or5L2F19Az— Joel Brown (@JoelBrownABC11) January 26, 2022
RDU has sent a message to passengers since December that it was prepared for the winter season. It overstocked the airport with solid and liquid deicer in anticipation of supply chain issues that might slow down the delivery of a resupply. However, operation leaders say back-to-back storms were more than what they planned for and current supplies of solid and liquid deicer are almost depleted.
The board voted unanimously to restock now. Sandifer acknowledged that supply chain issues still create uncertainty about when the deicer will arrive.
"Do we have concerns about getting this order by this weekend? And do we have an alternative? If it doesn't arrive in time," asked board member David Kushner.
"Yes, Mr. Kushner, I have serious concerns," Sandifer replied. "If we have three more ice storms. No, it's not enough to get us through the winter."
The authority board's nearly $242,000 purchase approval will come out of the current year's budget. But if snow this weekend comes before the resupply arrives, Sandifer says airport crews will use everything they have left just to keep the airfield open. Airport roads and parking lots will lose priority.