How long have you been in this business?

We have been in gift distribution for some 1.600 years now. Our organisation was founded in the 4th century by Bishop Nicholas of Smyrna (Izmir), in what is now Turkey. He gave joy to poor children by throwing gifts in through their windows. Our reputation grew from there. The basic foot-based delivery and distribution network remained unchanged for more than thirteen centuries with my namesake Sinter Klaas, a Dutchman, running the operation as it expanded across Europe from our hub near what is now Schipol.

So when did it move into an airborne system?

Well as ever, we can thank the inventiveness of the Americans building on a good European idea. A number of our investors moved from Holland to New York in the early 18th century and the Sinter Klaas business expanded there. Our activities were widely reported thanks to popular author Washington Irving who gave Americans their first detailed information in 1809.

We became a full-blown US operation in 1823 when a new fleet strategy was outlined in a report called The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. He proposed using eight reindeers to power our sleigh rather than the horses that we had been using. His eight-engined design was later picked up by The Boeing Company for the B52. Amazingly, although we were the first to introduce powered flight, the Federal Aviation Authority was never able to certificate our sleigh or reindeer system - or even believe in our existence - which explains why the Wright brothers are erroneously attributed as being the first to achieve manned powered flight.

How have things changed?

The biggest change was probably in the mid-1930s when we introduced a ninth power source called Rudolph. Thanks to some interesting wireless technology developments we were able to get a glowing red beacon at Rudolph's forward point which enabled us to maintain safe flight when transiting uncontrolled airspace.

On brand identity too, our now traditional red and white livery design was frozen in a shared marketing operation with soft drink manufacturer Coca Cola , but unfortunately the first of the User Fee arguments were being proposed at this time and so we felt we had to move away from the USA's congested airspace and relocated to Lapland in the Arctic Circle where our MRO operation and logistics facilities spread across several national borders and as a result we don't have problems with any individual civil aviation authority.

What are working conditions like in Lapland?

Much better. We were out of touch for some time relying on slightly singed mail from our customers. We now have the internet and so keep in touch with industry headlines through Sadly we are no longer spared the ongoing Boeing versus Airbus spats. We have advised both sides that if they do not behave we will not be visiting Seattle or Toulouse next week.

How often do you get to fly?

I only log 24 hours every year but of course we complete more than 185,000km (100,000nm) as not only do we circumnavigate the planet we also have to do a lot of regional point-to-point missions to meet delivery requirements. I have had to get support from our feeder operations through Weihnachtsmann, in Germany and Father Christmas in England, In France, we have Pèrè Noël, but he is regularly facing labour relations issues with the French elves who are determined to protect their jobs.

What are your biggest issues?

I do have a number of concerns for the future. For example, the growth of satellite television means many of our rooftop landing strips are impeded by satellite dishes. As far as the environment is concerned, we have some issues over emissions due to the high-fibre fuelling system for the reindeers which is let off as exhaust during flight, but we firmly believe we are the most fuel efficient cargo carrier in the world.

But when all is said and done, this is a great job and there are no vacancies at this time.


Source: Flight International