The Bristol area was affected by strong winds (gusting to over 60mph) and torrential rain for a couple of hours between 6 and 8 this evening. Luckily for the airport the worst of the weather coincided with a quiet spell of operations and only two inbound easyJet aircraft diverted, both to Gatwick, the Prague and a Geneva.
Overnight and this morning there was minimal snow and the airport received several Ryanair diverts, mainly Stansted-bound I believe, although there was one from Treviso bound for Dublin - I didn't realise DUB was affected by snow this morning.
Lunchtime saw a substantial snow storm and four aircraft were sent elsewhere - one FR and 2 EZYs to Cardiff and one FR to Bournemouth. The airport seemed to reopen very quickly afterwards and normal service was soon resumed.
This evening the snow has returned with a vengeance and it seems the airport is struggling because the arrivals board is showing no arrivals since just after 1900. However, a good number of inbounds should have landed by now but the arrivals page is blisfully silent as to their fate. The only one it mentions is the SN from Brussels which is shown as 'diverted back to Brussels'.
Confusingly the following notice has recently appeared on the airport’s web home page which doesn’t answer the question as to what has happened to those inbound easyJet flights still shown as expected but now well past their arrival times or those still inbound. At the moment there is no point in checking the airport’s arrivals and departures board (which is what is suggested in the notice) because it won’t be much help. It’s the left hand and right hand thing again. Perhaps they should clap and then will meet in the middle.
Customer Notice - updated at 2100 hrs, 2nd February
Bristol International Airport is currently experiencing some delays and cancellations as a result of the adverse weather conditions. Easyjet have cancelled all flights for the rest of this evening. Departing passengers are advised to check with their airline's website for the latest information. For further flight information please visit our arrivals and departures board, or Ceefax.
Manchester airport does the same. When bad weather causes delays or diversions, the screens mysteriously go blank and fail to update. I think it's typical managerial misconception trying to make people believe that the weather isn't really that bad and that they can handle it.
WELSH rugby fans heading for Scotland are stranded in Bristol Airport in scenes described as "like the North Pole".
Seventeen flights departing from the airport this morning are cancelled as a result of what the airport is describing as "severe disruption due to heavy snow".
The flights include the EZY401 to Glasgow and EZY423 to Edinburgh, as well as possible alternatives EZY566 to Newcastle and T34502 to Aberdeen.
All flights from the airport, including the 2.30pm to Edinburgh and 2.40pm to Glasgow, are currently postponed until at least 4pm.
However, EasyJet has postponed all its flights until at least 6pm.
Meanwhile, the Severn Bridge is also closed after five car windscreens were smashed by ice falling from cables on the second Severn crossing, the Highways Agency said.
Guardian rugby writer Paul Rees, from the Cardiff area, spoke to WalesOnline from the airport, from where he was due to fly to Scotland to cover the game.
"There are a group of fans right next to me whose flight has been cancelled and they can’t get anything today or tomorrow," he said.
"They are talking about trying to get to Gatwick.
"I was due on the 6.45am flight to Edinburgh but that was cancelled so I’ve got one tomorrow.I’m going to stay in a pub a mile down the road. I booked it as soon as my flight was cancelled."
"But I left Cardiff last night and stayed in a hotel here because the weather was due to be bad today. My car is in the car park and I can barely see it under the snow. There are drifts of up to 6ft."
"When I drove to the airport this morning, there were cars abandoned on the way.The airport is packed and there are a number of Welsh fans here, easily more than 100. The ones due on a 1.30pm flight from here won’t know whether they can go yet."
"The cans of lager were being cracked open at 5.30am but there haven’t been any problems. They know there is nothing anyone can do. It is like the North Pole."
Bristol Airport spokesman James Gore said: "We are now closed for flights until 4pm.
"To be honest, it’s not looking hugely promising for anyone looking to fly today, not wanting to pre-empt anything. We have had at least a foot of snow overnight and it has been snowing all morning."
"Colleagues have abandoned cars to walk in. Our road systems here have been really badly hit. We have been digging people out of the car park. We’ve not been able to make any headway with clearing snow off the runway."
"Fans will need to contact EasyJet and make re-booking arrangements."
Fan Toby Mason, 32, from Cardiff, said he could not even reach Bristol Airport.
"We were flying to Inverness on Friday to spend a night there before going down to Edinburgh on Saturday," he said.
"But we got to within about three miles of the airport and everything just stopped. We heard there was a tractor having to individually pull cars up a hill. It took us three-and-a-half hours to get to Bristol this morning – the M4 was a nightmare – then we had to turn back."
"We spent another hour getting to Clifton where we have spent the last two hours looking at alternative ways of getting to Scotland. None are looking particularly promising. We do not envisage getting to Scotland. All flights to Edinburgh are going to be booked up, they have been for ages."
"We are trying to think of ways to get our match tickets to someone else, whether we can get them back to Cardiff and pass them to someone else who is going up."
EasyJet has suspended all flights until at least 6pm and urged passengers of cancelled flights to rebook as quickly as they can.
"Customers can change their flights free of charge on our website," said spokesman Andrew McConnell.
"But we are very, very busy because of the rugby. The sooner passengers change their flight, the more chance they have of getting an alternative flight.
"We have a small number of seats available."
Cardiff International Airport has not been significantly affected by the snowfall, with only minor delays and no cancelled flights.
Bristol Airport has been closed all day for take-offs and landings and an official airport statement on its website says the situation will remain unchanged until at least 1600 hours.
The snow that fell overnight was the heaviest in the area for 25 years according to local media sources.
Ironically, the local BBC weather forecast on Thursday evening said the Bristol area would miss the worst of the overnight snow storms with a maximum of five centimetres (two inches) expected. I would think we have had five times that amount.
All Bristol buses are still off the road and have not yet ventured out at all today. This includes the Airport Flyer (operated by First Coaches on behalf of the airport) which did run yesterday morning when all other First routes in and around the city were temporarily suspended.
An airport spokesman said on local radio this morning they had a large team out overnight to try to keep the airport open (the team succeeded the previous night when about four inches of snow fell) but the sheer volume of snow this time has defeated them. Furthermore, the A 38 to the airport is barely passable in places which will not only hinder intending passengers reaching the airport but also staff.
At present the BRS website is only showing a notice with a list of cancelled flights and a statement that they will reconsider the situation at 1600. It is not possible to access the rest of their website at the moment.
The airport reopened around 1600 and all airlines resumed their scheduled departures and arrivals, including Ryanair, Aer Arann, Eastern, Lufthansa (Eurowings), KLM Cityhopper, Air France and Brussels Airlines.
The glaring exception was easyJet, the largest operator at BRS, who took the decision to cancel all flights for the entire day.
This meant the large number of rugby supporters waiting to fly to Glasgow and Edinburgh for the Six Nations tomorrow, many of whom had missed out on the earlier Scottish departures, couldn't even get there by the two evening flights that were due to leave three hours after the airport reopened.
An easyJet spokesman on BBC Bristol is quoted as saying all passengers may apply for a refund (that is generous of the airline) but the flights to Scotland tomorrow are fully booked so those rugby fans who couldn't get there today are stuffed.
I don't believe that easyJet couldn't have found crews to have operated at least some of th evening departures. The aircraft were there. The apron plan clearly shows them parked.
I'm afraid this is another example of airlines not putting themselves out for the benefit of their passengers.
It's yet another blizzard-like evening here (in the city and on the hills around, including the airport) which means BRS is closed again with diversions to CWL, BHX,MAN and LGW at present but several more yet to be found digs elsewhere for the night as they approach the Arctic wastes of Broadfield Down (upon which BRS sits).
The one gone to MAN is the Jet2 757 from Sharm el Sheikh with the TOM 757 from Sharm gone to LGW. The poor passengers from Egypt couldn't have expected to have fetched up at airports so far apart when they left Sharm. At least all the easyJets seem to be just popping across the river to CWL.
We had a little bit of snow up here but nothing substantial enough to cause problems. The Jet2 aircraft used was probably based at Manchester hence the diversion there. At least the Cardiff forumers will have a bit of fun for a change.
When I went to bed around 2300 it was snowing heavily with a substantial covering on top of much of that which had remained since Friday (despite heavy rain for a lot of the early evening).
Woke up to find that the snow had turned back to heavy rain during the night and what snow is left lying around is very patchy and melting in the winter sun.
Bristol was able to re-open at 0500 and is running a normal service today with minimal delays.
A spokesman on the local radio said they have removed 60,000 tons of snow from the runway, taxiways and aprons over the past week.
There are still people complaining in the local press that Bristol is a Mickey Mouse airport for closing. One idiot who was diverted to Cardiff said no other airport in Europe would have closed under such conditions. Don't know how he knew what Bristol conditions were like anyway if he was diverted to Cardiff.
By far the worst day at BRS for diversions since last winter.
Of the 'smaller aircraft' only the morning Brussels Airlines ARJ from Brussels, the KLM F70s from AMS and the Aer Arann ATR 72 from Cork got in during the day.
The AF ATR 72s (2), Aurigny ATR 72, Eastern J 41s (3), Flybe Q 400 and ASW DH-8-300s (6) turbo props were either cancelled or diverted to the likes of Exeter and Birmingham, and this evening the AF and SN have been cancelled or diverted, as has the evening KLM (to CWL).
Until teatime the easyJets and Ryanairs landed but since around 1700 hours nothing has got in.
So far five easyJets and a TCX A320 have gone to CWL and four Ryanairs to Birmingham. Further diversions are anticipated later this evening.
As I commented elsewhere no fun for passengers but at least CWL's passenger numbers will benefit this month.
BRS has Cat IIIb ILS on its westerly runway (27) but not on the reciprocal easterly (09) because of the topography of the surrounding area.
Although there is a slight easterly wind blowing it seems within downwind landing limits from what has gone on in the past.
Maybe the wind has increased or visibility is so poor that even IIIb cannot be used, unless the NOTAM information means the ILS is temporarily degraded in some way.
I expect the local paper (always on the prowl to put the knife between the airport's ribs) will enjoy itself and 'the airport should be at Filton' brigade will be back on the march.............of course, the airport should have been at Filton, but that's another story, and a very long one.
Funnily enough it's not too much of a problem most of the time albeit the sh*tty days are often in winter with the wind invariably in the 'wrong' direction but frequently so light (as it often is with fog/mist) that downwind landings on 27 can be and often are achieved under Cat III.
Of course, that only applies to the likes of easyJet and Ryanair as well as the major charter operators such as TOM/TCX so long as the flight crews are 'current' for Cat III.
Most of the smaller stuff, including all the turbo props, aren't Cat III-equipped and either cancel or divert. There was a time when they would go into Filton but for the most part that seems to have stopped.
Incidentally, I have noted that on some days the easyJet 319s get in on Cat III but the Ryanair 738s divert. I enquired the reasons on that website and was told the 738s need a bit more visibility than the 319s even under Cat IIIb. Not sure if this is true or, if it is, whether it is just a company thing.
The ILS might have been out of service for routine maintenance maybe. It sounds like they were probably working hard to get the system serviceable again.
With respects to the FR and EZY usage of the CAT III ILS. Airlines do tend to set their own limits as well as the official limitations of the individual aircraft and / or crews that are flying the aircraft.
Here, Thomson has issues with the ILS with the 757 aircraft, as do Jet2 with the 757's, Both airlines have trailed the ILS CAT III for about a year only to decided not to carry out CAT III approaches after that except if the wind is calm for Thomson's. It became apparent that the aircraft was having too much flare off which isn't good on a relatively short undulating runway. Similarly, Thomson's also operated a Boeing 737-800 into Leeds for a season and they decided not to use to use the CAT III ILS either, but a few years on and now they do, bizarre? Ryanair don't seem to have a problem with the 737-800's either so these type of restrictions must be down to the airline.