A de-icing truck is expected to arrive in Aberdeen this afternoon to replace one that has been out of service since Saturday, causing most flights at the airport to be canceled.
Since Saturday afternoon, only one Delta Airlines flight has departed Aberdeen Regional Airport, and none have arrived because the de-icing truck is not working. Michael Thomas, a Delta spokesman based in Atlanta, said the truck has a mechanical issue that basically made it inoperable.
A replacement de-icing truck is scheduled to leave Omaha, Neb., this morning and arrive in Aberdeen at some point this afternoon, Thomas said Monday evening.
A Delta Airlines flight arrived about 2:23 p.m. Saturday, but was not able to return to Minneapolis that day because of de-icing problems. The 11 p.m. flight into Aberdeen Saturday was also canceled.
Delta flights normally leave Aberdeen at 6:45 a.m. But Sunday's flight did not leave Sunday until 11:30 a.m., when the temperature had improved, said Aberdeen Transportation Director Mike Wilson. A de-icing truck removes ice from planes. The ice is removed from the nose, wings, tail and other parts of a plane, he said.
Smaller planes and private jets don't require de-icing, Wilson said. They are equipped with a rubber device called a boot, which breaks up ice on the wings, he said.
Both incoming Aberdeen flights Sunday were canceled. Because the 11 p.m. flight didn't arrive Sunday night, that plane was not available to fly out at 6:45 a.m. Monday.
The arrival at 2:23 p.m. Monday was also canceled. Late Monday afternoon, Wilson expressed doubt that the plane scheduled to arrive at 11 p.m. Monday would make the trip.
“If there's a chance of icing, they're not going to risk it and bring the aircraft in,” Wilson said late Monday afternoon, noting that snow flurries were in the air.
Because it's an overnight flight, there would be no way to de-ice it after it frosts overnight, he said.
“So, I don't think they'll be bringing the night flights in.”
The de-icing truck is owned by Delta Global Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. Commercial service is provided to Aberdeen by SkyWest Airlines on behalf of Delta.
The truck that normally serves Aberdeen Regional Airport is being repaired in Aberdeen, Wilson said.
Thomas said Delta has been able to assist some passengers by busing them from Minneapolis to Aberdeen.
For the most part, Delta has “been pretty successful in reaccommodating” passengers who were scheduled to fly in or out of Aberdeen, he said. Some passengers have chosen to drive to Sioux Falls, he said.
Scott Suedmeier of Aberdeen was angry about the travel disruption on Monday afternoon. Suedmeier planned to fly out of Aberdeen Monday morning to travel to a concrete seminar in Las Vegas. That seminar runs until Thursday.
Suedmeier, who works in high-end concrete, said the gathering is very important to his business.
He planned to obtain a master certificate for historical certification, for which attendance is required all four days. He also had appointments scheduled with two experts Monday evening, which he might not be able to reschedule.
Suedmeier said he received an automated call at 5 p.m. Sunday telling him his flight at 6:45 a.m. Monday had been canceled.
He said if he'd been called earlier Sunday, he would have had more flexibility in getting to Las Vegas.
He also said Delta officials initially told him the cancellation was due to weather, rather than saying it was an equipment problem.
When he asked about compensation in phone calls to Delta, he said he was offered $100 and then $125, which was not enough, he said. Missing the seminar could cost him as much as $50,000, he said.
Thomas said Delta is doing everything it can to accommodate passengers.
“We certainly do apologize to those passengers who have been inconvenienced,” Thomas said.
He expects that operations in Aberdeen will return to normal soon, he said.
Delta meteorologists are carefully looking at weather conditions to see when it might be possible to fly into Aberdeen, he said.
If a passenger feels a flight is canceled at the last minute, he said, it's because Delta is closely monitoring conditions to see if the airline can “feasibly and safely send an aircraft into Aberdeen.”
Wilson said that people whose travel plans have been disrupted should visit personnel at Aberdeen's Delta counter between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.