Winter operations - Articles and news items
Issue 4 2013 / 14 August 2013 /
From Paris to Stockholm and Russia to the U.S., the winter season causes problems at airports throughout the northern hemisphere, says Richard Oakes, Winter Operations Manager at Heathrow Airport
We can’t stop the snow falling and we need to be realistic that poor visibility and icy conditions will always have an impact at airports; just as they do on road and rail networks. Our aim is to find ways to deal with the snow so that we can get as many passengers flying as possible.
At Heathrow Airport, we have invested £36 million over the past two years, strengthening our Winter Resilience Programme and ensuring that we have fit-for-purpose plans, technologies, machinery and intelligence as well as fully trained and prepared staff to minimise disruption during these often short-lived, but extremely disruptive events. (more…)
Issue 1 2013, Supplements / 17 February 2013 /
This free to view Winter Operations supplement is sponsored by Vestergaard, Kilfrost and Aebi Schmidt:
- Communication and coordination are key to a successful winter season
Nicky Cooper, Head of Network Operations Management, EUROCONTROL
- Winter Operations Industry Roundtable – Successful operation lies in preparation
Gary Lydiate (CEO, Kilfrost) / Mike Moore (Key Account Manager, Aebi Schmidt) / Lars Barsøe (Sales Manager, Vestergaard) / Nicky Cooper (EUROCONTROL)
- Riga: Prepared for the winter season
Dzintra Jātniece, Director of the Airfield Management Department, Riga Airport
- Keeping Norway open
Terje Selnes, Senior Advisor – Ground Services, Avinor HK
Issue 6, 2012 / 7 December 2012 /
In the last few years the UK has experienced winter weather conditions more akin to the Arctic, with sub-zero temperatures and extremes of weather that have tested the transport system to its limits. With Scotland often bearing the brunt, regional airport operator HIAL has developed innovative ways to keep passengers flying, even in the harshest conditions.
Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL), a publicly owned airport operator accountable to Scottish Ministers, is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of 11 regional airports across Scotland. In 2011/12, the group handled 1.26 million passengers, an increase of 8.7 per cent on the previous year. The busiest airport in the group, Inverness, handled more than 607,000 passengers, an increase of 12.8 per cent.
In addition to operating Inverness Airport, the gateway to one of Scotland’s fastest growing cities, HIAL is also responsible for ensuring that lifeline links are maintained through the operation of airports in remote locations across the Scottish Highlands and Islands; from Campbeltown in Argyll to Wick John O’Groats, the most northerly airport on the UK mainland, and the island airports of Stornoway, Benbecula, Kirkwall and Sumburgh, as well as the world famous beach landing strip at Barra in the Western Isles. HIAL also operates Dundee Airport at Scotland’s fourth largest city. (more…)
Airport news / 6 November 2012 /
For decades, Munich Airport has been customer of the company Kahlbacher, the specialist for outstanding solutions in snow clearing from Kitzbühel/Tyrol. The snow clearing technology from Tyrol reliably relieves Munich Airport from snow and helps to keep the airport operable during the winter. (more…)
Issue 5 2012 / 2 October 2012 /
The process of winter operations remains an important part of an airport’s armoury. Since 2010, when arctic conditions covered the majority of Europe and North America’s airports in a blanket of ice and snow, many have come underpressure to clear runways, taxiways and aprons as swiftly as possible to maintain normal flight movements.
Planning and preparation are two of the key factors involved with successful winter operations, as well as a strong execution of clearing procedures. Munich, the sixth busiest airport in Europe, relies heavily on keeping planes airborne, so implementing a sound winter operations plan is essential.
Mark Glover from International Airport Review spoke to Alfons Breiteneicher, Head of Surface and Winter Services at Munich Airport, about the types of equipment the airport uses, the environmental affect, and the importance of keeping the airport open, no matter what the weather. (more…)
Issue 5 2012 / 2 October 2012 /
Salzburg Airport is situated in the heart of Europe and is often referred to as the ‘gateway to the Alps’. Due to its location, only 4km from the city of Salzburg and close to the main skiing resorts in the area, the airport’s high season lasts from the end of December until the end of March.
A challenge every year
For Salzburg Airport, snowy and icy conditions represent an incredible logistical and organisational challenge. Salzburg usually handles an average of 3,500 to 4,000 passengers a day during the summer, autumn and spring periods. However, during the winter and specifically on Saturdays, we will handle over 30,000 passengers. Saturdays are commonly the days when hotels in the area ‘refresh’ their intake of guests, meaning that flight movements on these days are particularly busy.
The winter outlook
‘Safety first’ is more than a slogan at Salzburg Airport, it is something that everyone who works at the airport lives up to. More than 50 employees ensure that the runway, the taxiways, the apron as well as any depository areas are free of ice and snow. (more…)
Issue 4 2012 / 3 August 2012 /
Norway is well known for its wintery weather however these types of conditions are rarely a problem for us here at Trondheim Airport. It is a constantly changing and fluctuating winter pattern that creates the greatest challenges. This places greater demands on both personnel and equipment at the airport which can have an effect on flight movements.
We have a proactive approach to our winter operations. We work closely with the airlines and the handling companies to achieve the following priorities; safety, punctuality and the environmental effect. By targeting investment in proper equipment and training we have shown that it is possible to deal with the winter conditions effectively and efficiently.
Trondheim Airport is Norway’s third busiest airport and the northern most international hub in the country and possibly in Europe. There are approximately 55,000 flight movements during the year. The airport is situated in the middle of Norway not too far from the Arctic Circle. This, combined with its location close to sea, creates an unpredictable weather pattern. Snow, rain, strong cross winds and a changing temperature creates a number of challenges for our personnel and, of course, pilots. (more…)
Issue 3 2012 / 6 June 2012 /
The date was 23 December 2010. Copenhagen Airport (CPH) had prepared for the peak travel day of the Christmas season with 70,000 excited passengers ready to pass through its terminals. We were all ready and had successfully managed to handle traffic, despite several weeks of snow. What we did not know was that on that peak day in December, we were about to get 53cm of snow instead of the expected 10cm.
I have never experienced anything like it during the 20 years I have been in charge of Copenhagen Airport’s winter operations. We had snow bombs, as cold air was making the sea around us steam with snow clouds. But the combination of our experience, our extensive preparations and our many highly dedicated employees enabled us to get everybody home for Christmas. It was an incredible day, after a couple of weeks of severe winter weather that had almost closed down all air traffic in northern Europe and the UK. It was expensive for everybody, especially the airlines. Very expensive. What saved Christmas in 2010 for our passengers and airlines was our recent change of snow clearing methods, a change that enabled us to clear our 3.6km-long, and 45m-wide runways in less than 15 minutes.
Although delays occurred, we were able to handle all traffic during the 35 days of snowfall that paralysed air traffic in several other countries that year. (more…)
Issue 2 2012 / 28 March 2012 /
People, process and technology are all part of an effective winter opera – tions strategy. The extent that each component is successfully integrated with the others plays a large role in influencing the outcome of a winter operations event. At Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport (MSP) we have a history of refining these components over the years. With approximately 1,200 operations to and from 135 destinations daily, MSP ranks amongst the busiest airports in the world. This level of activity combined with an average annual snowfall of approximately 50 inches provides us with ample opportunities to test our winter operations skills.
In addition to dedicated, experienced personnel and proven processes, MSP’s Airside Operations department utilises numerous technology tools. These range from systems for current and forecasted weather conditions, aircraft and vehicle tracking, surface condition sensors, runway friction management and more. We have a history of partnering with vendors early in the development of products, not only to meet our needs, but also the needs of other airports. This ongoing commitment to up-front input and effective partnerships results in us having the technology we need to make sound decisions and develop effective management processes.
Perhaps the best way to describe some of these tools and their benefit to MSP is to take you through a hypothetical winter storm experience. (more…)
Issue 1 2012 / 7 February 2012 /
Warsaw Chopin Airport has spent a large amount of investment on winter main – tenance during the 2010/11 season. Never before in the airport’s history had the struggle with snow and ice required so much effort and resources. So what can we expect in 2012?
According to data from the Polish Institute of Meteorology and Water Management, the previous winter was exceptionally cold. The average temperature during the three winter months was -3°C, which was more than two degrees colder than usual. As we all know the 2011/2012 was particularly harsh, causing travel chaos across Europe.
In Warsaw, the number of snowfall periods (12 hour work shifts during which snow removal was required) totalled 85 and was similar to that of the two previous seasons. The number of melt-freeze periods was also above average at approximately 96. However, due to heavy snowfall, as well as rapid weather changes, Chopin Airport’s snow-removal service had their hands full. (more…)
Issue 1 2012 / 7 February 2012 /
Prague Airport is the biggest airport in the Czech Republic and one of the major hubs in Central and Eastern Europe. Prague’s excellent location in the heart of Europe together with its recognition as an attractive business and holiday destination represents a unique opportunity for air service development.
Like London and Frankfurt, Prague Airport suffered in the 2010/2011 winter season. However, the airport was only closed from 1-2 December 2010 for six hours. Over 100cm of snow had fallen between 26 November and 31 December. During those 36 days, 34 of them were spent maintaining runways and airport premises from the bad weather conditions. The biggest snow falls during last season were on the 28 November (12cm), 1 December (20cm) and 15 December (10cm). In all we had to use approximately 570,000 litres of de-icing fluid.
The main problem was the snow on the apron, a place where the airplanes are parked and handled. (more…)
Issue 6 2011 / 8 December 2011 /
It is inevitable that adverse weather conditions at airports will lead to operational restrictions on airfields and will often lead to disruption to aircraft operations. This was witnessed during December 2011 when the world looked on as UK aviation was severely affected by freezing conditions and heavy snowfall. However, at Birmingham Airport this operational impact was not as bad as some other major UK airports. This was mainly due to our investment in new equipment and our ongoing commitment to plan and exercise for adverse weather events. Nevertheless, the bad weather did force us to close the runway on four occasions, totalling slightly less than 16 hours with less than eight hours occurring during our core operational hours (06:00 and 22:00).
Winters in the UK are variable so all airports can do is prepare, train and test. Until snow falls it is difficult to know what the full extent of the impact will be. Conditions can vary so any disruption will depend on the amount of snow, duration of snowfall and the temperature and conditions on the ground before it starts to fall. Whilst we make every reasonable effort to clear snow and ice from airside areas, it is a lengthy process, especially when there is a persistent snowfall – as soon as you have completed a sweep of the runway it is covered again and the process has to be repeated. Unlike landside areas, rock salt cannot be used on the runway or taxiways to treat areas in advance of forecast ice or snowfall, and if there is just four inches of snowfall at Birmingham Airport, some 20,000 tonnes of snow will need to be cleared. (more…)
Issue 5 2011 / 5 October 2011 /
In over 60 years of operation, Zurich Airport has never had to be closed down because of snow – a fact the airport is immensely proud of. Last year Several European airports fought harsh winter weather conditions and some hubs – such as Frankfurt and London Heathrow – had to temporarily halt operations or close down completely.
As a consequence, aircrafts had to divert to Zurich Airport as their alternate airport, demanding high flexibility from all airport partners involved. While ground staff were facing stressful and hectic times, airplane spotters cheered! Numerous aircraft diversions brought unique photo opportunities and rare guests to Zurich, such as an additional Airbus A380 from Singapore Airlines that had to divert to Zurich from London Heathrow.
What distinguishes Zurich Airport from other European airports? Why is snow not a reason for the declaration of a state of emergency? The answer is a combination of several factors: An experienced crew, excellent equipment, a reliable alarm and first response system, regular training and tremendous commitment. (more…)
Issue 4 2011 / 8 August 2011 /
It was one particular snowy day at the airport last year when I signed off the use of a large amount of anti-skid material, perhaps more than I was used to seeing recorded in our operation logs. However, the request was essential given the winter conditions that we had to operate in. The minimum temperatures were exceptionally low at the airport during the last winter season. Compressed snow and icy banks built up on the airside aprons meaning that it was essential for the airport to take action.
The previous two winters were particularly challenging for the airport. The last six years preceding this threw up very little in the way of snow clearing difficulties, in fact, to quote one of my Duty Airside Managers; “One of the worst winters took place on a very nice Saturday afternoon!” (more…)
Issue 3 2011 / 10 June 2011 /
Despite a total of 1.58 metres of snow this winter, Oslo Airport (OSL) achieved a punctuality rate of 80%. Efficient and productive snow clearing techniques are essential for the smooth operation of Norway’s main airport.
Because of its continental climate, Oslo Gardermoen receives more than its fair share of snow, freezing fog and drizzling rain. But despite these meteorological challenges, the airport has always had good punctuality figures – primarily thanks to the excellent routines for dealing with the winter weather. Since it opened, the airport has only been closed twice because of snow – on 1 February 2008 and 7 February 2009. And on both occasions, the closure only lasted a few hours. (more…)