“If a single snowflake falls in Tegel or Schönefeld then things grind to a halt!” Rumours and sentiments such as this were widely voiced prior to the start of last winter. Doomsayers predicted that snow and ice would bring air traffic to its knees, that take-offs and landings would be impossible. These scenarios proved to be wrong.
Both airports, Schönefeld and Tegel, remained operational without interruption throughout the winter.
In winter 2011/2012 de-icing staff were called out 40 times; this winter the figure rose to well over 100 deployment days. In the past four months, up to 200 of the airport operator’s personnel were employed in a two-shift system and on-call night duty to clear runways, taxiways and aprons and ensure that the airports were fully operational. At Schönefeld and Tegel around 80 special vehicles were deployed, including 45 large vehicles specially designed for use at airports (e.g., extra-wide gritters with a gritting reach of 24 metres and snow blowers with a clearing width of 3.50 metres). To ensure that sufficient stocks of de-icing fluid (ADF) were available at the airports, an additional 500,000 litres were held in an emergency supply warehouse. In total in the first three months of 2013, around 2,000 tons of mixed solid and liquid de-icers were used, three times the amount used in 2011. GlobeGround Berlin GmbH acquired five new de-icing vehicles. Preparations for the winter commenced as early as June 2012.
Hartmut Mehdorn, Chief Executive Officer of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH: “It is thanks to the absolute dedication and solid experience of our staff that passengers made it through the winter safely and with few delays. Naturally, one always has to anticipate restrictions at this time of year. We have the utmost sympathy for passengers who are annoyed if their flight is delayed or cancelled. However, the large majority understand that safety comes first and we are grateful for their understanding. Below the line, what counts is that we mastered the challenges of the winter well. This was a superb team effort which our staff have every reason to be proud of.”
Thomas Kropp, authorised signatory on the Lufthansa Management Board for Berlin / Brandenburg: “Staff at Tegel deserve a massive compliment: this well-rehearsed team have done a fantastic job over the long, hard winter months. We also welcome the efficiency-boosting measures that have been implemented at this busy airport. We hope that work can continue at the BER site this year and that the construction progress is not hindered by speculations about additional operating limitations.”
The start of the first de-icing day on 12 October 2012 marked the beginning of the official winter season for GlobeGround Berlin GmbH. There followed 139 more de-icing days. In comparison, during the winter season 2011/2012 de-icing only took place on 114 days at Tegel and Schönefeld airports. “This winter season has been long for all involved. In light of the exceptional conditions and impact of the weather, our staff have done an excellent job and the joint winter plans of all partners have been highly successful”, says Bernhard Alvensleben, Managing Director of GlobeGround Berlin GmbH & Co. KG.