Saturday 16 December 2017

'We are asking people to bear with us' - massive delays at Irish airport after freight plane gets stuck on runway

Belfast International Airport
Belfast International Airport

Michael McHugh

Flights have been cancelled and arrivals suspended at Belfast International Airport after a plane burst its tyres on the runway.

The incident happened just before 6am on Tuesday with the plane left stranded at the junction between the two runways, causing major disruption with the airport having to be closed.

Graham Keddie, managing director of the airport, told the BBC that the incident happened at "the wrong place and at the wrong time".

He said the freight plane was being unloaded for it to be recovered and one runway had been freed up to allow planes to land.

"We are doing all we can," said Mr Keddie, "and we are asking people to bear with us.

By 9am, the airport was opened for arrivals, while departures were expected to be disrupted through the day.

Some flights have been allowed to depart, while others have been cancelled. Those cancelled include flights to Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol and London Luton.

Disruption is expected through the day.

Alan Whiteside, operations manager at the airport, said using a shortened runway some flights were able to land.

"This has resulted to significant delays to operations," he said.

"After the Air Accident Investigations Branch arrive - which should be around lunch - and give us the ok to move the aircraft we should be able to get operations back up and running."

Among the passengers disrupted was 64-year-old Violet Slater from Crieff in Perthshire. She told how she had to wait in a queue for more than two hours after her flight home was cancelled.

But she praised the airport staff who were "fantastically helpful".

She said: "I was hoping to travel back home to Scotland today via Edinburgh airport. I arrived here this morning and very soon after I arrived, I didn't have to take any luggage, so I walked straight through to my gate.

"I was told by easyJet there would be an announcement soon about the arrival and our flight was likely to be cancelled.

"We waited for that announcement and we were asked to come back downstairs and join a queue.

"I didn't enjoy joining the queue because I stood for over two hours in the queue. When I got through to customer service desk the staff were fanatically helpful, they rearranged my flight for me, gave me all the information they could give me, gave me a telephone so I could try and make contact with family.

She added: "I have no complaints, there was an accident on the runway this morning, no-one was hurt, nobody died. I'm a bit fed up listening to other people having big gripes about very little.

"I was here sadly because of the death of my sister and for her funeral. Maybe that makes you a bit more tolerant of little things that are outside people's control."

People have been asked to check with their airline before travelling.

The Air Accident Investigations Branch is to investigate.

Belfast Telegraph

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