Frankfurt Airport is well prepared for snow and ice


Winter Services Team Has More Than 1,300 Employees – Safety Is Always the Top Priority

One of the leading aviation hubs in the world, Frankfurt Airport (FRA) handles an average of about 1,400 aircraft, taking off or landing each day.  On peak days, well over 200,000 passengers use the terminals.  Fraport’s extensive Winter Services team at FRA ensures safe and smooth operations, even during snowy and icy conditions.  Each year, the Winter Services team prepares months in advance for the upcoming winter season.  Extensive training with all the involved partners is done over several months to maintain optimum coordination and preparedness for winter-weather conditions.  For example, Fraport conducted about 180 preparatory training sessions in the summer, comprising both classroom theory as well as practical operational runs on the apron.  The goal was to study clearing concepts for the runway system and to streamline individual processes.

For the current season, Fraport’s Winter Services team at FRA can call upon a team of 1,373 employees, who are available around the clock in a three-shift system – about 80 employees more than last winter.  They have 358 specialized vehicles at their disposal to clear snow and ice from some 9.1 million square meters of operational areas at FRA, including the runway system (4 runways), apron areas and public operational areas.  This is equivalent to more than 1,200 soccer fields.  FRA maintains an on-site supply of 3.1 million litres of ground and aircraft de-icing agent, 168,000 metric tons of granulated agent, 750 metric tons of salt, and 160 metric tons of sand.

Although all partners are committed to punctuality and smooth operations, the onset of winter weather can sometimes lead to flight disruptions – despite all of the preparations and resources. Fraport AG executive board member for airport operations, Anke Giesen, explains: “Safety is always the top priority for everyone involved in aviation.  We have to pay particular attention to safety when weather conditions are already resulting in delays.  These efforts are aimed at getting our passengers safely to their destination.  A special thanks goes out in advance to our highly dedicated Winter Services colleagues who are permanently on standby during the winter months to keep the airport free of ice and snow.”

When heavy snowfall occurs, FRA’s Winter Services team springs into action to keep the runways, in particular, and the taxiways and other operational areas free from snow and ice.  Why?  Unlike cars, which can reduce their speed on snow-affected roads, aircraft cannot simply take off or land more slowly.  Depending on the intensity of the snowfall, clearance can require from 30 minutes to more than 60 minutes per runway.  During clearing operations the runways cannot be used.  Snow and ice also have to be removed from the surfaces of aircraft before planes can take off.  Fraport’s N*ICE subsidiary deploys a team of some 400 people for aircraft de-icing – which can be expanded with colleagues from other operational units.



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