CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has found Cleveland Hopkins International Airport will need a lot of outside help plowing runways and not just for this week’s severe winter weather.

We found a shortage of workers at Hopkins to plow and clear snow, so we investigated.

Laborers Union Local 860 spoke out. Bobby Mendel said: “So, it’s a major concern. The airport supervisors are concerned about this year’s winter program because they have a lack of staffing and lack of vehicles.”

We’ve learned the airport is short about a third of the workers normally involved in clearing snow, and about 10% of the vehicles used for clearing snow are out of service.

So the airport plans to fill the gaps with plow crews from a private company.

Snow plowing at Hopkins involves a lot more than keeping the runways clear. It also involves roads outside the terminal where you pick people up or drop them off.

Airport officials tell us they have federal standards to meet for plowing runways, and the airport has a contract with a company to help plow the airfield and the terminal area.

“Safety at the airport is always our No. 1 priority; safety of the airport and passengers,” airport spokesman John Goersmeyer said at a news conference this week.

Depending on how much snow falls this winter, that could cost up to $2.5 million.

The shortage of workers involved in plowing comes to light as the union is fighting for better pay to attract more workers.

“It’s hard to get qualified candidates,” Mendel said.

In the meantime, airport officials said they’ve tried hard to fill open jobs. You can find out more about any open positions on the airport’s website.

But behind it all, travelers are most concerned with simply knowing the snow will be plowed — somehow.

“We give it a lot of thought,” one traveler told us.

Another said: “I would expect it. That’s the service that they offer to get you up and down.”