LONDON – The snow was melting off London’s streets, but HeathrowAirport told infuriated passengers it won’t restore full service until Thursday — five days after a five-inch snowfall turned hundreds of thousands of holiday plans into a nightmare of canceled flights and painful nights sleeping on terminal floors.
OK … snow sucks … but let me get this straight: 5 inches of snow shut down one of the central hubs for European air travel … one of its most critical connections with the Western Hemisphere … for FIVE days??
I mean, we get 5 inch snow falls in Chicago at least 3-4 times a year. Does O’Hare shut down? Absolutely! Does it shut down full service for five days? No way!
Now one might assert that Chicago is more used to snow … I would argue that given London’s relative position on the globe, occasional snowstorms are not foreign.
Transportation experts said that after many years without heavy snowfall, underinvestment has left Heathrow and dozens of other airports across Britain and Ireland without enough equipment or personnel to cope with big storms.
Let us go back fellow Chicagoans to someone who learned this lesson the hard way: the late Michael Bilandic. Michael Bilandic did end his political career sitting on Illinois’ Supreme Court, but historically might be better remembered for stepping in to finish off the OId Man’s (Richard J. Daley’s) final term. He ran for re-election, and lost because when the Blizzard of 1979 hit the city, the snow plows were not ready to move. Since then, every may or of Chicago has heeded the same warning: fleece the city all you want: hire people who sit in truck cabs all do without lifting a finger … hire relatives, and friends of relatives … this will not lose you an election …
… but the moment a flake of snow touches asphalt, thousands of plows and salt trucks will be roving the streets of Chicago making sure people can get to work. Failure to do so means you don’t have to worry about spending a dime on re-election.
Fortunately, other nations will soon be ordering the UK how to spend their money to get their act together:
European Union transportation commissioner Siim Kallas threatened tougher regulation if performance does not improve. “Better preparedness, in line with what is done in Northern Europe is not an optional extra, it must be planned for and with the necessary investment,” he said.