Brutal Winter Pushes MSP Airport over Budget

Updated: 04/04/2014 7:29 AM By: Cassie Hart

Photo: KSTP/File
Photo: KSTP/File

This hasn't just been a cold winter; it's been an expensive one, too. At Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, operating expenses are already more than $1 million over budget.

"For one runway, for us to de-ice it after we've plowed it and broomed it, is between $15,000 and $20,000," MSP Manager of Field Maintenance Lee Spangrud said. Keep in mind, he's talking about de-icing just one runway a single time.

Altogether, weather-related expenses have totaled more than $3.5 million at the airport since October, which is a 45 percent hike over the same time last year.

Just in overtime - not including sand or chemicals or maintenance - the airport has spent nearly $2 million this winter; during a typical winter storm, the MSP maintenance staff goes from about 120 people to about 200.

Spangrud says the trick is finding the right ones.

"If you do snowmobiling, skiing, any outdoor activities in winter, this isn't the job for you because when everybody else is out playing, we're here," he said.

So here's the - literally - million-dollar question: When the airport goes over budget, who pays for it?

Good news: It's not the taxpayers. Spangrud says the airlines are actually on the hook.