Sunday 25 March 2018

'I'm praying I'll make my flight to Chile'

Ralph Riegel

SOME stranded passengers were left with little option but to curl up and sleep on the terminal floor until flight updates became available.

"I was to catch a flight to Pisa from Stansted. I don't know what I am going to do now -- I hope that I can get a flight tomorrow," Italian holidaymaker Maria Bagnolli told the Irish Independent.

Others had missed long-haul connecting flights at Gatwick and Heathrow.

Eight flights were cancelled at Cork Airport by 9am yesterday. By mid-afternoon, more than 30 arrivals and departures had fallen victim to ash-related cancellations.

Ultimately, less than half a dozen flights were able to take off -- all heading in directions away from the ash cloud.

Marketing manager Kevin Cullinane, who was attending a conference in Manchester, found himself caught up in the flight chaos.

"Passengers are being advised to check with their airline websites for updates and of course check with Cork Airport website as well," he said.

"People can also check various media outlets where there will be constant updates on airport status and climactic conditions throughout the day."

Hundreds of intending passengers -- many trying to make connecting flights at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted airports in London -- were stranded until today at the earliest.

One woman missed a flight to Santiago in Chile -- and was left hoping that the Heathrow flight, like her flight from Cork, was cancelled due to the ash storm.

"There is no way I am going to make the evening flight (from Heathrow) so I am praying that I will be able to get on the flight tomorrow," she said.

Other passengers retired to the airport restaurant and bar and adopted a wait-and-see philosophy.

"There's not a lot we can do about it -- it's better to find out about the ash here on the ground in Cork than up in the air when you're right in the middle of it. It's an act of God and you cannot argue with that," football fan Jim O'Donoghue said.

Jim, who is planning to attend the Manchester United-Manchester City game at the weekend, said he was optimistic he would make it in time for kick-off.

"The beer tastes the same here as it does over there," he laughed.

The airport's pain proved to be a gain for others.

Fastnet Lines confirmed a massive hike in bookings for its 'MV Julia' ferry sailing between Cork and Swansea last night.

Cork hotels also reported increased business as stranded passengers looked for a place to rest pending an announcement about flights.

Irish Independent

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