Winter wonderland welcomes you to fly via Helsinki
During the Christmas holidays in 2010, a BBC News report on Helsinki Airport's snow miracle spread like wildfire around the world. While many European airports suffered delays and cancellations, Helsinki Airport stayed open in spite of snowfall and sub-zero temperatures.
The success of Helsinki Airport's position as a leading long-haul airport in Northern Europe and a fast and smooth transfer airport for flights between Europe and Asia relies on efficient winter maintenance.
The world-class winter maintenance ensures smooth operations even in extreme winter conditions. The continuing growth of Helsinki Airport as a popular gateway depends on fast connections, decongested airspace and punctuality. None of these can be met if the runways are blocked with snow.
Winter hasn't shut traffic down at Helsinki Airport for a long time. The last time the airport was shut down was for a half an hour in the winter of 2003-2004 because of a simultaneous snowstorm and technical failure.
The ability to keep the airport open is a combination of resources, equipment, efficient processes and co-operation between air traffic control, maintenance, airlines, ground handling companies and other airport operators.
The winter maintenance of runways deploys sweeping machines, snow ploughs, snow blowers and friction meters. These help ensure that the runways and taxiways are operable even during the heaviest snowfalls.
At Helsinki Airport there are three runways. When one is being cleared of snow the two others are in use. If an airport has only one runway, no aircraft will be able to fly while it is being maintained. It takes us about 11 minutes to clear one of our three runways, including the taxiways. If there's only a little snow, passengers probably won't even notice that it is snowing.