“Snow far, so good” as Manchester Airport beats the big freeze during busiest week of the Christmas getaway

With air travellers severely affected by the wintry weather across Europe during the busiest week of the Christmas Getaway period, Manchester Airport has remained open thanks to a combination of forward-planning, new equipment and lessons learnt from last winter’s disruption.

So far a staggering 650,000 litres of de-icing fluid has been used to ensure aircraft can safely operate. With a total of 5cm of snow having fallen in sporadic bursts over the past few days, around 50,000 cubic metres of snow have been cleared from the airfield – enough to fill about 5000 large skips.

Over 2 million of investment in new equipment has also boosted the airport’s existing fleet of snow clearing equipment, helping to ensure that one-million square metres of airfield remained fully operational during the big freeze. To put the size of the operation into context, Manchester Airport’s Runway 1 is 3048 x 45 metres and Manchester United FC’s Old Trafford pitch is 105 x 68 metres so each time snow is removed from Runway 1 alone, is the equivalent to clearing 19 football pitches.

With the airfield fully operational, by Tuesday 21 December, Manchester Airport was able to offer to help get flights away that should have departed from Heathrow Airport with around 600 passengers leaving that day to Doha and Hong Kong. Today, Manchester Airport expects to welcome over 1,000 more passengers from Heathrow again travelling to Doha, the United States, Dubai and Hong Kong.

Since Friday, Manchester Airport has accepted 26 diversions which were unable to land at airports in southern England, with around 5000 passengers on-board – a further ten flights heading for Paris and Frankfurt were also accepted into Manchester. As a result, the Runway Visitor Park has also seen a boost in numbers, with aviation enthusiasts keen to see the diverted aircraft that wouldn’t usually land at Manchester.

Andrew Harrison, Managing Director of Manchester Airport, said: “It’s a real achievement to keep the airport moving – all of our staff deserve a big pat on the back. We’ve incorporated a number of changes in light of the experiences we gained during last winter, including new equipment that enables us to clear snow in a more efficient way, increased contingency staffing levels and improving capacity to store more anti-icing fluid on site, all of which have helped to keep operations running.

“It should however be recognised that there will always be certain times when conditions deteriorate to extent that airports have no option but to suspend operations for the safety of passengers and staff.”

Manchester has not totally escaped the conditions and last Friday night operations were temporarily suspended for around 180-minutes which resulted in ten flights being diverted to other airports. On Sunday evening, freezing fog meant that several smaller aircraft had to land at alternative airports due to poor visibility. Since Friday, over 100 flights out of around 1,600 have either been cancelled or delayed at Manchester, due to displaced aircraft and snow-closures at other airports.


For more information, contact the Manchester Airport press office on 0161 489 2700 or at press.office@manairport.co.uk

Published on: 22/12/2010 10:20:41