Winter is coming!
While we were experiencing a heatwave in August, our 'polar bears' were already busy with the winter preperations. You might think that’s a pretty early start, but then 'Sinterklaas' sweets have been on supermarket shelves since August! As they would say in Game of Thrones: Winter is coming. And the airport has to be prepared for the coldest season.
Winter has come!
At Schiphol, the winter season officially starts on 15 November but as from 1 October, we start to de-ice the aircraft. At Schiphol we take advantage of the summer months to get everything ready for the winter operation, as taking off and landing at the airport is that much trickier when it’s snowing. For example, did you know that we need about five times as many employees on a snowy day? The shift roster is a challenge in itself! We also use the summer period to make sure our snow clearance vehicles are in full working order. When snow comes, we want to clear the runways in under 20 minutes, so we have no use for a broken-down vehicle!
Driving lessons in the snow
Of course, all our employees have to get the right training. Everyone – both people with years of experience and employees who are new to the winter operation – has to take what we call a ‘vehicle refresher course’. Driving a huge snow machine is not something you do every day, so you have to make 100% sure that you still know how everything works. We practise that during the nights when there are fewer flights. We also deploy polar bears for the snow operation. Not the animals, of course – that’s our name for the office staff at Schiphol who get called up to drive the snow clearance vehicles when it’s snowy and slippery outside. These staff members, too, are currently taking an extensive training course in both theory and practice. By the time the first snowflakes start to fall, our employees will be fully prepared to operate those vehicles.
Come snow or shine
This is how Schiphol looked this January. Our team worked flat out to ensure that as many flight services as possible could take off and land at our airport. What the King of Winter will bring this year is anyone’s guess. What we can promise is that we, together with the airlines and our partners, are doing everything we can to be ready for the bitterest season of the year, so you can be sure of getting to your sunny – or even wintry – destination, whatever the season!