Snow forces Dublin airport to close down


A TEAM of boxers, members of a youth parliament, skiers, sunseekers, daytrippers, tourists and businessmen were among the thousands of disappointed passengers due to fly out of Dublin airport yesterday.

More than 200 flights in and out of Dublin were cancelled yesterday due to heavy snowfall as the runway was closed following a friction test.

The queues of over a thousand passengers almost formed a circle around the whole of the airport’s departure hall yesterday afternoon. Travellers queued for hours to get refunds, rebook flights and find out if their flight would be rescheduled.

Others phoned friends, used laptops and queued for the internet terminals hoping to get on the Ryanair and Aer Lingus websites. A number of deadlines for the runway to reopen came and went between 1pm and 7.30pm. Airport authorities had hoped the weather would clear and the runway could be cleared of snow and de-iced yesterday afternoon.

The airport did not reopen until about 7.45pm last night. However only a handful of aircraft landed or took off yesterday evening as Aer Lingus and Ryanair had already cancelled most flights. While the runway was ready earlier, banks of snow had formed at the piers and proved to be an obstacle to the aircraft, Siobhán Moore of the Dublin Airport Authority said.

The airport is expected to run to a normal schedule today according to the DAA. Ryanair and Aer Lingus are not planning to add extra flights today.

Many travellers had been on aircraft ready to take off when the airport was closed. “We were on the plane at 11.45 and got off the plane at three,” said Margaret Trodden an Aer Lingus passenger who was due to fly to Florida to meet friends yesterday morning.

While she queued for hours to see if she could rebook, her husband Seán was at the carousel trying to get the luggage. She said some people on the aircraft who had access to the internet knew the airport was closed before passengers on board were informed. John Mansell travelling on a midday Ryanair flight to Bristol said he could see the snow piling up as he sat on the delayed aircraft. “I knew there was no way we were going anywhere.”

He was annoyed that people had to queue for so long to rebook a flight.”You can book online but realistically how many people can go online here?” he added.

One Swedish passenger who sat on an aircraft for two hours was very annoyed. Sylvia Johnson was due to go on the Ryanair flight to Gothenburg and was hoping after a two-hour queue to book a flight for today. She did not think the snow was that bad, noting that in Sweden it would be heavier and the airport would be open.

While many passengers said they understood the weather could not be controlled, they were very disappointed. Among those was a group of 17 boxers from Ardboyne Holycross due to go to Washington to fight at the weekend.

Some 19 students representing Ireland in the young peoples parliament in Strasbourg were also disappointed. They had been chosen out of 2,000 entrants.

Another group of travellers managed to make alternative arrangements to go on their holiday. Róisín OMeara from Tipperary was determined not to lose out on her skiing trip to Salzburg. She had booked a flight from Shannon to Stansted and on to Austria for this morning.

George Best Belfast City Airport was also closed for a time yesterday morning.