Monday, 12 November 2012


Scottish airports operator HIAL has launched its winter operation plan which aims to ensure passengers across its network of 11 airports keep flying this winter. The company has invested £400,000 on snow clearing equipment and a new de-icer storage facility at Inverness, and is also taking part, for a second winter, in a CAA trial aimed at accurately reporting runway surface conditions. HIAL is also using a forecasting tool provided by the UK Met Office which more precisely predicts weather conditions at those airports that have been most severely affected by snow and ice in recent years - Inverness, Stornoway, Wick John O’Groats, Kirkwall and Sumburgh. The more accurate forecasting tool will improve the effectiveness of de-icing operations, reduce wastage and the overall cost of winter operations. Mark Stuart, Operations Director at HIAL said: “In recent years, the UK has experienced winter weather conditions more akin to the Arctic, with sub zero temperatures and extremes of weather that have tested the transport system to its limits. With Scotland often bearing the brunt, HIAL has a responsibility to ensure that we keep passengers flying, even in the harshest conditions.” Responsibility for winter operations rests with the Airport Fire Service. Staff have been undergoing extensive training, rehearsing winter operational scenarios and readying essential equipment for the onset of winter. HIAL’s winter operational plan was inspired by the experience of airports in Norway, which are well used to extreme winter conditions. HIAL’s Chief Fire Office George Farquhar said: “The winter months are a particular challenge for HIAL given the diverse nature of our group, and the fact that our airports are spread over a vast geographical area, many of them in remote areas. Nevertheless, we have worked hard to ensure our teams are prepared for the worst extremes of winter and we have invested heavily in additional equipment and training, and new forecasting techniques in order to ensure airports continue to operate during severe weather.” Passengers can receive winter flight updates on the HIAL website –