Airports throughout the UK and Ireland are facing a third day of disruption as heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures have seen cancelled and delayed flights affect operations.
Airports including London City, Norwich, Cork, Shannon, Bristol, Inverness, Glasgow, Birmingham, Newcastle and Manchester have all seen disruptions to airline services.
In East Anglia, staff at Norwich Airport spent five hours clearing the runway early in the morning on Tuesday 27 February to try and ensure flights to and from the city’s airport could run.
Richard Pace, managing director of the airport, said the runway opened at 9.30am on Tuesday, but that flights to Manchester, Edinburgh and Amsterdam were delayed, while some flights to and from Aberdeen had been cancelled. He stated:
It’s not just a case of clearing the snow once. Because it’s falling, more accumulates and you just have to keep working.
It’s not like a road. Once we decide to close a runway we have to get it completely clear of snow before we open it again.
Despite the downpour of snow bringing large parts of the UK’s North East to a standstill, only a handful of flights were cancelled at Newcastle Airport which currently remains operational. A statement issued by the airport read: “Heavy snow showers are continuing in the North East. Our operational teams continue to work hard to keep disruption to a minimum and keep the runway clear.”
Similarly in Birmingham a spokesperson confirmed that the airport remained open saying: “There’s no snow in Birmingham although very cold, but it’s normal operations currently. The cancellations are due to bad weather in other destinations such as Ireland and Scotland.”
A number of Scottish airports were forced to ground their flights and even close as staff combatted the snow.
Glasgow Airport closed for the day at 3pm, on Wednesday 28 February, after forecasters issued severe and red weather warnings. Although airport staff had worked furiously to get flights up and running after services were suspended earlier in the day, they were forced to call it a day just before 3pm.
Bosses tweeted “Due to continued severe weather conditions and the large number of flights which airlines have had to cancel, there will be no further flights to or from Glasgow Airport for the remainder of the day.”
Aberdeen Airport meanwhile has managed to clear the runway and reopen after being forced to close earlier in the day, although some flights are still subject to delays and cancellations.
London Oxford Airport seemed less sympathetic to its fellow airports tweeting: “Avoid Snowmaggedon and charter a plane right now from London Oxford Airport – the runway’s clear and ready to go.”
In Ireland, Shannon Airport was providing passengers with a free jump start facility and de-icing spray, while Cork Airport was closed briefly in the morning on Wednesday 28 February to allow maintenance crews to clear snow and slush from the main runway and taxiways. Aer Lingus cancelled flights to Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester based on weather conditions at the destination airports.
Kevin Cullinane, Cork Airport’s head of communications told Regional Gateway:
Our maintenance crews have been working continuously for over 24 hours to keep Cork Airport operational and have done Trojan work in very testing conditions.
With more heavy snow, gale force winds and bitterly cold temperatures marking the arrival of Storm Emma this evening, the Met Office has issued a ‘red severe weather’ alert for parts of Scotland and airports remain on high alert advising passengers to check their flight status before travelling to the airport.