Located way above the Arctic Circle, Tromsø, Norway, is home to the most-northern station of Aviator Airport Alliance, a full-range provider of aviation services at 15 airports across the Nordics. The professional team up there is used to harsh winters and challenging operations, snowstorms, and chilling frost, thus the summertime is always seen as a nice change of pace.
“By far, the easiest season for us, working at an airport in the north, is summer,” shares Ruben Nilsen, Aviator Ramp Manager and De-icing Coordinator at Tromso airport. “And, when I say summer season, I mean 2 months, maybe 3, if we are lucky. The snow can fall here in May, June, and sometimes as late as July. So, when the snow melts, we feel just like cows stepping on fresh green grass for the first time after a long winter in a barn,” he jokes. “Or like bears after hibernation.”
Ruben Nilsen shares, that seeing snow melt is a beautiful sight for everyone at the station. “After challenging winters, when we are faced with cold temperatures, rapidly changing weather, and huge amounts of snow to struggle with, it is a real treat to see the snow melt and to feel the tarmac under our work boots. Additionally, as we have a lot of our equipment parked outside during winter since the airport lacks covered parking space, summer weather is also a big advantage for us as we do not need to remove snow from icy and snowy aircraft stairs.”
He explains that the pushback is much easier in summer. “In winter months we need to put a lot of gravel under and in front of the pushback wheels to get going and to not only spin in snow and ice or get stuck. Because of that some aircraft also have issues with sand and gravel in the engines after winter, thus a special sort of gravel on the ground has to be used so that the engines do not get damaged.”
According to him, ”Equipment-wise, our experience shows that it works better during spring and summer, since a lot of our machinery is run by electricity and batteries have prolonged life during hotter weather. At the same time, if the weather is really hot, we struggle with aircraft during startup after pushback as if they turn too fast during very hot weather, the asphalt can get torn.”
Summertime is also easier for planning. “From May until September we do not have to provide de-icing services, so this makes the summer months easier to plan as we have more experienced staff in production. At the same time, when planning, we have to take into consideration that in the heat it’s easier to get exhausted, thus we try to variate tasks more frequently so that no one would be stuck in one place in the heat for a long time,” the Ramp Manager explains.
While summer is easier for ground handlers to deal with because cold, snow, and ice do not pose any threats, the increased number of passengers and charter flights can become challenging. “During summer everyone wants to travel, thus we have to work with fully booked planes,” Ruben Nilsen says. “But at least it’s not snowing. Usually.”