Cork Airport praised for big effort to assist stranded passengers
About 140 spend night at terminal after snow leads to flight cancellations and diversions
Camp beds in the terminal at Cork Airport, on which stranded passengers spent Wednesday night. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Hats off to Cork Airport was the message to airport management from many of the grateful people from among 300 stranded passengers who were forced to spend Wednesday at the terminal after heavy snow left them stuck in Cork.
Some had come to the airport to discover their flights had been cancelled. One such was Brian Hosford, from Frinton-on-Sea in Essex, England, who had made his annual pilgrimage to Cork for the anniversaries of his Leeside-born parents, only to find himself stuck when his flight to Stansted fell victim to the weather.
“I’ve been here since 6.30pm last night but my flight was cancelled. It’s the same all over the UK at the moment but they have been brilliant here at Cork – just fantastic – you wouldn’t get what we got here last night if you were stuck in an English airport. Ten out 10 for the way they treated us.”
Road home impassable
Friends Donna Burke, Maureen Crowley, Aine O’Reilly, Denise Hourihane and Adrian Grace had been bussed back from Shannon after their Malaga-to-Cork flight had to divert there, with the Cork terminal in sight. They then spent the night in Cork Airport, as the road home to West Cork was impassable.
“We knew the forecast was bad here but we thought we’d get in before it struck and get home to West Cork, but when we got here from Shannon, the roads were too dangerous to go any further so we stayed here in the terminal – and in fairness, they looked after us really well,” said Burke.
Cork Airport managing director Niall MacCarthy was at the terminal well into the early hours of Thursday, working hard with his team to ensure the 300-plus stranded passengers were brought to hotels or at least well catered for at the airport.
“We had a lot of people stuck here, so we set about prioritising in terms of need – and those most in need are often the quietest, so we discreetly separated them out and we got a man in a wheelchair and his elderly wife and a young woman with two babies away to hotels.
“We got buses for some and the Army came up with trucks and St John’s Ambulance and Civil Defence also helped, and some of our staff took people in their own cars and brought them to hotels in town because all the airport hotels were full – so we got the number down to around 140 people.
“At that stage, we opened our emergency stocks at the fire station so we provided camp beds for another 50 or 60 and then we gave out foil blankets to the rest so nobody had to end up sleeping on cold tiles – everyone here at the airport pitched in so it was a rocking effort.”
The airport closed on Thursday at about lunchtime, but is hoping to be in a position to reopen on Saturday morning.