AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL at Dublin Airport has advised airlines that it will not be able to operate any further flights until at least 5am tomorrow morning, with further heavy snowfall hitting the airport tonight.
The airport closed its main runway at 6:30pm as workers rushed to make the runway safe to travel, causing further heartache for stranded passengers this evening as the airport struggles to clear a fresh backlog of frustrated passengers.
It was hoped to resume flights within an hour of that closure, but with a potential eight inches of snowfall hitting Dublin and the surrounding counties tonight, airport staff will now be forced to replough the runway through the night while aircraft are de-iced before further flights can land or take off.
The extra holdup merely compounds travel headaches for tens of thousands of passengers, who had already seen the airport shut for three-and-a-half hours this morning.
The airport runway was closed from 9:30am until 1pm today, forcing the cancellation of 100 flights and affecting an estimated 15,000 passengers, after further early morning snowfall caused unsafe conditions on the ice.
Aer Lingus had already announced that it was cancelling the remainder of its outbound flights from Dublin for the rest of the day, saying the earlier closure of the airport meant it was forced to attend to previously stranded passengers.
Servisair, which operates as ground handler to the majority of non-Aer Lingus aircraft at Shannon, has asked Dublin not to forward any diverted flights to Shannon, citing shortages of de-icing fluid with which to treat its existing fleet. Shannon is still able, however, to accept diverted air traffic.
The extended closure of the airport earlier today was condemned by Ryanair; spokesman Stephen McNamara said the airline slammed the “mismanagement of the runway” had left thousands of passengers distressed, and called on transport minister Noel Dempsey to investigate the Dublin Airport Authority’s procedures.
The DAA rejected the criticisms, saying it had no option but to prioritise passenger safety.
Dublin Bus has indicated that it is prepared to run Airlink bus services from Dublin city centre to the airport until well into Christmas Day to serve demand, should the DAA decide to keep the airport open.
Bus Éireann has announced it will run a limited intercity service on Christmas Day to cope with the exceptional demand for transport; extra services will run from Dublin to Limerick, Belfast, Cork, Galway, Rosslare Harbour, Ballina, Sligo, Waterford, Letterkenny, Donegal, Clonmel and Derry, serving all the usual towns along the routes.
Irish Rail is operating a full service though demand is very heavy given the rush to be home for Christmas.
Dublin Bus will continue to operate its Nitelink routes tonight but again warns that most urban housing estates cannot be served; Luas services remain fully operational.
The road network remains heavily congested this evening; the AA reports massive traffic on the M1 northbound from the M50 interchange to Lissenhall, and heavy traffic on the M7 from Rathcoole to the M9.
Traffic is also significant in Cork city and in other major urban centres around the country.
Met Éireann estimates that snow showers will continue but ease off tonight, though there is no further snowfall expected for tomorrow.
Up-to-date weather and transport information can be found on the following websites:
- Department of Transport
- Met Éireann
- AA Roadwatch (and Twitter)
- National Roads Authority
- Irish Airports: Dublin Airport (Twitter); Cork Airport; Shannon Airport
- Buses: Bus Éireann (and Twitter); Dublin Bus
- Rail: Iarnród Éireann (and Twitter); Luas
- Ferries: Irish Ferries, Stena Line
- UK Airports: London Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, City; Manchester,Birmingham, Liverpool, East Midlands, Newcastle; Glasgow, Edinburgh,Aberdeen; British Airport Authority
Twitter users can get weather news through TheJournal.ie’s curated ‘Big Freeze’ list.