By Manu Ferreira
Due to the severe winter storm that hit Northern and Central Illinois in the past couple of days, The University of Illinois-Willard Airport has canceled all flights since Wednesday, February 2nd. The terminal suspended a total of 22 flights, between 12 departures and 10 arrivals, that was supposed to take off and land in Champaign.
According to the Executive Director at Williard Airport, Tim Bannon, the flights had to be canceled because, during heavy snow accumulation, airfield surfaces become contaminated with snow and ice, making it unsafe for airplanes to operate.
“They impact an aircraft’s ability to turn and stop. Also, low visibility and high winds during snow events can impact safety. Airlines make the decision to cancel flights, not the airport. However, conditions at both Willard and the destination airports are the biggest factors in this evaluation process,” explains.
The next step now is to clean up runways, taxiways, and aprons to make sure they are safe for landing and taking off.
“The airport has a snow crew that works 16 hours per day during winter weather operations and after large events. Strict safety standards are in place here, as safety is our number one priority. We won’t open the airport for passengers until our snow crews certify that everything is ready for operations.” affirms.
Flights are expected to resume normal operation at the airport starting this afternoon, February 4th. Airport roads, parking lots, and the airfield will be safe and operational.
Passengers who had their travels canceled have to contact the airline responsible for operating the flights to rebook it at a later date out of Willard Airport or seek a flight from an alternative airport. “Airlines work directly with passengers to accommodate travel needs, especially during large winter events,” clarifies Bannon.