Even airports not historically affected by heavy snowfall are rethinking their winter processes. Tom Batchelor looks at the measures European airports are taking to remain operational year-round

The arrival of winter brings a unique set of challenges for airport operators in parts of the world where inclement weather can occur. Severe wintry weather can wreak havoc with flight operations and, in some cases, trigger the total shutdown of major hubs. In 2010, for instance, Heathrow Airport was forced to close for four days after heavy snow saw flights grind to a halt.

At major European airports where slot capacity is limited, avoiding the widespread disruption caused by snow, frost and freezing conditions is paramount, so planning for winter is a year-round operation. In addition to airport operability, these preparations serve a vital safety function, as wintry weather presents hazards including reduced braking capability and the increased risk of skidding.

Easier said than done

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