As record-breaking temperatures hit the UK today (19 July), one team of dedicated Teesside Airport staff was working hard to make sure local people could jet off without any problems.
While passengers would usually be using the airport to fly out for some summer sun, they escaped the heat on the hottest day of the year. An extreme heat amber warning was in place as thermometers rose to 37.3C in Teesside – four degrees hotter than Palma, Majorca, where the planes were heading.
TUI, the UK’s biggest holiday firm, and Ryanair, Europe’s No.1 airline, both operate flights from Teesside to the popular holiday destination, but these could have been jeopardised without the forward planning of the airport’s operations team.
Tarmac, which makes up the runway, can begin to soften and lose its structural integrity at around 30C and therefore it was vital the team, led by Operations Director Andy Laundon, were proactive in keeping it under 28C.
He instructed the airport’s on-site fire department to use its appliances, reserving two for emergencies, to periodically spray the tarmac on the runway three times a day to keep it stable – meaning the packed flights took off without a hitch.
With reports of runways “melting” at other UK airports, it’s this level of planning right across the site that means Teesside Airport is the second most punctual in the UK, according to Civil Aviation Authority figures.
It doesn’t end there, as holidaymakers have been keeping comfortable inside the terminal building too, with extra coolers and fans running since last Friday to cool the building ahead of the heatwave.
Andy Laundon said: “Usually in the UK, the Operations team are all about planning for winter movements and keeping the runway open during the frost and the snow, however the freak heatwave this year has made us look at things slightly differently.
“We’ve had an operational plan in place since mid-last week which involves cooling the terminal down for passengers and we’ve started to douse areas of the runway to avoid any struggle with integrity and the runway suffering.
“Other airports have started to do the same, but we’ve been planning this since last week and we avoided any delays or disruption by getting the runway cool before it became an issue – the key is forward planning.”