Sunday 9 December 2018

Airports in race to clear backlog of stranded passengers

Tractors helped clear the snow from runways, taxiways and roadways at Cork Airport. Photo: Karol Kachmarsky
Tractors helped clear the snow from runways, taxiways and roadways at Cork Airport. Photo: Karol Kachmarsky

Ralph Riegel

Irish ports and airports have resumed operations in a bid to tackle the Storm Emma transport backlog.

Thousands of passengers were desperately trying to get home as Aer Lingus, Ryanair and other carriers resumed scheduled operations at Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Knock and Kerry airports.

However, after three days of Storm Emma-induced flight cancellations, there were warnings that it could be today or even tomorrow before flight schedules are back to normal operations.

Lingering snow and ice caused a later-than-expected resumption of flight operations at some airports.

While both Dublin and Cork had hoped to resume full operations on Saturday, heavy overnight snowfalls put paid to those plans.

Flight operations were resumed later than expected on Saturday - with additional capacity being brought on stream yesterday by some carriers in a bid to address the backlog.

Priority was given to long-haul flights, with Aer Lingus and Ryanair working overtime to ensure full schedules were operated.

Irish airports urged passengers to contact their airlines amid concerns of delays to late evening flights given the pressure on early departures.

Passengers were also warned that some departures could be affected by adverse weather conditions in destination airports.

Storm Emma has wreaked havoc with Irish airline schedules since Wednesday.

At Dublin Airport, even the use of 100 specialised pieces of snow equipment was unable to save flight schedules from the ravages of Storm Emma and its record levels of snow fall.

More than 300 passengers were forced to sleep on cot beds in the terminal at Cork Airport on Thursday because of flight cancellations and blizzard-like conditions.

The scale of the snow storm was underlined by the fact Dublin and Cork runway clearance crews removed five times more snow than during the comparable icy snap in 2010.

At one point, Defence Forces and Civil Defence units were required to help.

Special 4x4 vehicles were used to assist passengers stranded at Cork Airport to reach guest houses and hotels located in the city.

Roads around the Kinsale Road by Cork Airport were rated as among the most treacherous in Cork, largely due to the gradient involved.

The knock-on effect of Storm Emma's transport chaos on Irish tourism and business has yet to be determined.

As Irish airports resumed full operations, ferry, bus and rail services nationwide also returned to normal.

Irish Independent

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