Charlotte Is One Of Few Airports To Provide De-icing
Most U.S. Airways flights were grounded Tuesday morning in part because of a shortage of fluid for de-icing. But the airline wasn't exactly responsible for that. In an unusual arrangement, the City of Charlotte provides de-icing for U.S. Airways through a private contractor. This is the first winter Charlotte Douglas International has coordinated de-icing for U.S. Airways planes. The city doesn't provide the service itself, but contracts with the company Contego Systems. The city pays Contego then recovers the money from U.S. Airways. "It's not the most typical model for larger airports of Charlotte's size," says Chris Oswald with Airports Council International-North America, an airport trade association. "More typically you'll have one or two major carriers that might be providing that service for their own airlines." Oswald says generally big airlines do the job themselves because they want control over such essential services like de-icing. Other airlines at Charlotte Douglas don't contract with the city. Hailey Gentry, a spokeswoman for the airport, says the city offers this service to U.S. Airways because it's part of being a good landlord. She says it's not much different than janitors cleaning-up after people. She says the city doesn't make any money on it. The airport just bills the airline for any de-icing costs. But Gentry says there's another reason it makes sense for the airport to provide the service. The Environmental Protection Agency has been coming up with guidelines about capturing and treating the excess fluid from the de-icing process. The airport decided it would be best to build one facility that includes a drain to collect the fluid. However, Oswald of the Airports Council points out Charlotte Douglas would be exempt from the proposed rules because it doesn't use that much de-icing fluid.