City of Cleveland disputes FAA's $735,000 fine at Hopkins Airport

City of Cleveland disputes FAA's $735,000 fine at Hopkins Airport

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The city of Cleveland has admitted it under-staffed runways at Hopkins International Airport 19 times during the winter, according to the agreement it signed with the FAA. However, it claims the runways were safe.

Two weeks after former Cleveland Hopkins International Airport director Ricky Smith blamed the city of Cleveland for Hopkins' under-staffing issues, the city is responding.

The Federal Aviation Administration slapped the city of Cleveland with four penalties involving the airport. The city says the penalties are technical and Hopkins has always been a safe airport during cold weather. Its 17-page response to the FAA says there is no specific level of staffing that will guarantee a safe airport.

Read City's Response to FAA 

The city says the violations the FAA listed did not occur or the facts and circumstances did not warrant the amount of the FAA fine of $735,000.

"We set standards that, at the end of the day, turned out not to be as meaningful as the regulatory guidelines," said Fred Szabo, interim director at Hopkins.

"So you did not meet those regulations 19 times?" asked reported Scott Taylor.

"Again, what we didn't meet fully, 100% staffing, even if we missed by one, I don't consider that to be a serious violation," Szabo responded.

Last month, Smith, who is currently the administrator for Baltimore Washington International Airport in Maryland, told The Baltimore Sun that the city was the reason Hopkins did not meet FAA guidelines. Smith claims he fought cuts within the city administration, but was overruled.

The city is requesting a meeting with the FAA to resolve the matter and reduce the fine.

"Up to this point, the FAA and the city has exchanged papers and reports. And we are looking forward to sitting down with them at a formal conference and explaining to them the totality of the operation, rather than looking at whether we reached those numbers as diligent as we should have, considering
cold weather operations at airports," said Szabo.

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