High winds keep fliers confined to plane at Belfast airport

Published on : Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Belfast airportHigh winds stopped visitors flying into Belfast International Airport from getting off their planes for a while on Tuesday night. At one stage, winds were gusting at 55 knots and winds over 48 knots are not safe for airport staff to work in. As a result, passengers on nine planes were unable to leave as it was too windy to put access steps in place.
Some passengers were kept on planes for two hours, but wind speeds eventually dropped, allowing them to disembark.

Flights from Edinburgh, Tenerife, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Gatwick and Bristol landed, but flights, from Luton and Tenerife were diverted to Dublin.

Thomas Spence, who arrived at the airport on a flight from Tenerife, was unable to reclaim his luggage as baggage handlers could not unload baggage from the plane.

Returning to the airport on Wednesday morning to retrieve his bags, he said: “When we were sitting [in the plane], it was rocking on the tarmac.

“You actually thought you were still in the air. But it was good to be on the ground because it was a rough flight, it was bouncing everywhere, and we were just glad to get touched down. When you came off the plane, it was really windy and you could understand why we were stuck on the plane.”

Alan Whiteside, the airport’s operations director, said the weather conditions had been “probably the worst we’ve had in quite a number of years”.

“The real issue is the safety of the both personnel operating the steps and the aircraft doors, and the passengers,” he said.

In those kind of winds, those large-sided steps will just start to move, so it’s unsafe to set them up for the passengers to get off.


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