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Flight diversions are rare events, and the main reason they happen is bad weather. This can be something as simple as snow or low cloud, or sometimes it can be because of a severe tropical storm or hurricane.

In the summer of 2021, Hurricane Elsa approached Florida, became Tropical Storm Elsa, unleashed rain and flooding, and cut off power to thousands. It forced many airports in Florida to close to inbound flights, forcing them to divert elsewhere. When this happens, it can be a real operational challenge for those managing the airport. They need to know they can rely on the systems and processes they use to deal with the situation.

“Initially, we did not anticipate much impact for our airport and did not plan on closing to aircraft operations,” said Lionel Guilbert, Senior Vice President of Operations & Public Safety at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ). “But as the storm progressed quickly, we decided to close after the last commercial operation. Doing this helps our tenants close up shop and prepare for the storm’s impact.”

Air carriers began canceling their flights in and out of SRQ throughout the day, which was visible in AeroCloud’s Gate Management module.

“This made it so much easier for our staff to answer passengers’ inquiries about flight status. This is usually one of the most challenging pre-storm issues we encounter,” added Guilbert.

“We were able to work efficiently and complete storm preparations for Common Use equipment at Ticket Counters and Gates as they were taken out of service,” added Evan Knighting, Senior VP and Chief Information Officer. “SRQ uses Aerocloud’s FIDS system, meaning any changes that were happening within Gate Management were immediately displayed on the FIDS screens throughout the airport, on the website widget, and the mobile app.”

“Timely and accurate information is critical during events like this, and having the systems integrated meant all of these updates displayed in real-time. In addition, my staff used the AeroCloud SRQ App throughout the day to monitor any changes or updates,” said Knighting.

By letting carriers who hadn’t yet canceled their flights know the real-time situation, local station managers could see others take precautionary actions ahead of the storm. In the end, SRQ suffered no damage from the storm and restarted operations the morning after closing.

“Compared to last time something like this happened, communication was so much better, and we saved so much wasted time,” added Knighting. “People didn’t need to chase down information, and we didn’t have passengers and tenants waiting around for any updates.”

Guilbert summed up SRQ’s relationship with AeroCloud.

“We are glad to have partnered with AeroCloud for our airport operations needs when we did, especially during this challenging past year. Our airport life and the service to our passengers is better thanks to the AeroCloud platform!”

To find out more about how we're helping airports like Sarasota Bradenton, get in touch.