Many airports will contract out snow removal to large companies in an effort to assist their maintenance departments. EWR
, and JFK
for example all use a company called Global Ground. Global Ground is responsible for clearing all around the terminals, and the Port Authority is then responsible for clearing the runways and taxiways. If the Port Authority had to clear the terminals as well, they wouldn't be able to spend as much time, and devote as much equipment to keeping the runways and taxiways clear.
Airports that see a lot of snow fall also have snow plans. These snow plans are written manuals developed to create the most effective methods for snow removal. Ideas are written in them, tested during snow storms, and if they work they are adapted into the plan, if not, then the idea is tossed. The plan also ensures that every time the trucks role out, the snow removal is the same. All the equipment starts in one area, and ends in the same. That way you don’t have trucks riding all over the field and leaving areas unplowed. Coordination by all parties is very important, you want to make sure everyone is traveling in the same direction and areas that should be plowed are getting done.
Many airports will assign priority areas in their snow plans. For example, the main runways and main taxiways would be considered priority 1. Throughout the storm the snow team would work on keeping priority 1 open to ensure that flights could get in. Priority 2 would consist of any runways that are not used that often, and secondary taxiways that are not needed used all the time for aircraft movement. These areas would usually be handled after the storm has subsided. The last priority is 3, these areas are usually tie downs, or areas where air traffic movement will be almost nonexistent until after the storm. These are usually the last areas to be cleaned.
Besides coordinating truck movements, snow placement is also very important. You do not want to have high snow banks along the runways and taxiways. These high snow banks block signs, lights, pilot views, and can be a hazard to aircraft with low wings. You also don’t want snow banks to be blown back out on the runway; drifting snow can be both a hazard and an annoyance.
There is a lot involved in snow removal. Area’s that don’t frequently get a lot of snow fall may not have such in depth snow removal plans, and will usually just make do with what they have. But areas that do get lots of snow, especially in the Northeast are better suited to handle the snow and are less often to close. Snow removal in general is a costly task. You need to purchase equipment and maintain that equipment. So, fiscally it does not make sense for airports that get a snow storm once in a great to purchase tons of snow removal equipment. They just make do with what they have. I hope this helps.