While the airports across Europe can hardly tackle the problem of the onslaught of snow and snowstorms, which disturb the travel plans for thousands of passengers, the spree of winter did not disturb the work of Vilnius International Airport (VIA). Thus, the planes took off on schedule, even though the airport services admit that they had to work shoulder to shoulder.
Though the flights from the airports of other European countries to Vilnius were delayed or cancelled due to weather conditions, abundant snowstorms and a thick snow -cover did not disturb the flights from Vilnius Airport. VIA divisions estimate that the amounts of snow collected and transported in December 2010 exceed the amounts of snow collected during the same months in 2009 and the years before by several times.
“17,000 m3 of snow were carried away from the airport apron in the final month of 2010. In other words, a 1 ha land-plot was covered by a snow-cover equivalent to the height of man. Around 138 tonnes of the chemical agent were used for the maintenance of surfaces within a month. The amount of the low-temperature chemical agent alone used in December 2010 exceeded the amounts used in December 2009 by 2.5 times,” Head of VIA Infrastructure Department Darius Okunevičius gives the calculations.
According to the head of the department, unusually numerous snowstorms and snow fronts, frequent weather changes and low temperatures were characteristic of the previous month. Hence, both the airport units and the sub-contractors had to work hard to ensure the proper cleaning and maintenance of all 5 taxiways, the runway and the entire apron, which covers the area of approximately 250,000 m2.
“The apron, the taxiways and the runway were cleaned all day long without any breaks by 10 different airport-owned vehicles designed for cleaning the snow off surfaces, which shovelled and cleaned the snow and powdered chemical agents. We also pre-arranged and hired 10 machinery units supplied by sub-contractors – trucks for snow transportation and lift trucks. Up to 20 machinery units and the same number of airport employees used to work at the apron at the same time because, for instance, the runway is subject to important requirements and it has to be as clean as a basketball court in summer,” Head of VIA Airfield Maintenance Unit Saulius Stankevičius explained.
The costs of snow cleaning and surface maintenance works exceed LTL 0.5 million per month.
It should be noted that all the collected snow is placed on the green areas of the airport and, according to Mr. Stankevičius, it would be excellent for filling ski trails.