New Brunswick

Airline sues Moncton airport after plane damaged by snowbank

An airline is suing the Greater Moncton International Airport Authority alleging a 747 was damaged in March when its engine hit a snowbank, which the company alleges wasn't properly cleared.

Cargo carrier Kalitta Air seeks more than $630,000

Kalitta Air has filed a lawsuit alleging negligence by the Greater Moncton International Airport Authority and Airport Terminal Services Inc. after one of its 747 aircraft hit a snowbank in March, causing 'significant damage.' (Kalitta Air)

An airline is suing the Greater Moncton International Airport Authority, saying a 747 was damaged in March when its engine hit a snowbank, which the company alleges wasn't properly cleared. 

Michigan-based Kalitta Air filed a statement of claim against the airport authority, Airport Terminal Services Inc. and its Canadian subsidiary in August. 

It's seeking more than $630,000, costs of the court action and any relief a judge may order if the case is successful.

None of the claims have been proven in court. Statements of defence have not yet been filed.

"There isn't really much we can say, it's really in the lawyers' hands right now," said Julie Pondant, a spokesperson for the airport. 

Sally Leible, president and CEO of Airport Terminal Services, said the case is without merit. 

"ATS categorically denies liability in this matter," Leible said in a statement. "At no time was the Kalitta aircraft in the care and custody of ATS before it made contact with the snowbank."

Negligence alleged

The statement of claim alleges negligence by the airport authority and Airport Terminal Services, a company that employs crew who direct planes manoeuvring on the ground. 

The Boeing 747-4HQF landed at Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport the night of March 11.

Pilots were following visual signals by ground crew through a series of turns on the airport ramp when one of the four engines hit a snowbank, "resulting in significant damage to the engine and aircraft."

It says the airport authority allowed snow to build up along taxiways and ramps, failed to notify pilots of the potential hazard posed by snowbanks and failed to mark the snowbanks. 

'Confusing and unclear directions'

It alleges Airport Terminal Services provided "confusing and unclear directions" to the plane's crew leading to the plane hitting the snowbank. 

The lawsuit alleges hitting the snowbank required repairs costing $350,070 US, business losses from the aircraft being out of service of at least $20,145 US and other costs of $104,242 US.

Kalitta Air began flying cargo flights out of the Moncton airport last summer.

Kalitta Air began flying cargo flights from the airport a year ago, mainly carrying lobster and other seafood to China, according to a news release from the airport authority.

Bernard LeBlanc, CEO of the airport, voiced enthusiasm in the news release for large 747 aircraft the airline uses. 

"The airport is very excited to be able to accommodate planes of this size to service local storage facilities such as Xtreme Cold Storage," LeBlanc said. 

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