Journeys cancelled and passengers left on planes for hours after 'heavy snow' at Manchester Airport

  • Pictures from MEN Media

Passengers had journeys cancelled and were left on planes for several hours after Manchester Airport closed due to 'heavy snowfall'.

The wintery conditions meant both runways were shut on Saturday morning, for "health and safety measures." One has since reopened.

Incoming flights were diverted while the runways were shut, including one from Singapore which is believed to have landed at Heathrow.

Many passengers complained on Twitter that the situation had left them stranded on planes for several hours, including Daniel Jones, a student from Ormskirk, Lancashire.

The 22-year-old arrived at Manchester Airport at 5am on Saturday for a 7.55am flight to Oslo, Norway, where he was hoping to have a two-day break - but more than 10 hours later he was still at the airport in a queue awaiting a refund for the flight.

Mr Jones said passengers on the plane were told a minute before departure, at 7.54am, that their flight would be delayed due to the weather conditions.

“We were told they’ve blocked the runway so won’t be leaving for another two hours at least,” he said.

Having boarded half an hour before their departure time, Mr Jones said the Ryanair passengers were then left on the plane for until 9.30am before being asked to disembark and return to the terminal to await a new flight – which at that point they were told would still be going ahead.

“They said we’ll get you to where you’re going, yours is going ahead … then at about 12 they started announcing flights were cancelled,” he said.

“Now here we are in this queue – they’ve got two people on the desk and there’s probably over 100 people waiting.”

Mr Jones said his Ryanair journey cost him just £15, but he was unsure whether he would be able to be refunded for the cost of his hostel in Oslo or his return flight to Manchester.

Mr Jones, who passed the time on his 10-hour wait by speaking to other passengers and playing cards, said the airport should have been better prepared for the weather conditions.

A Manchester Airport spokesperson said: “In anticipation of adverse weather forecast for this weekend, snow-clearing teams have been on site since Friday.

“Both runways were fully cleared and treated ahead of this morning’s first scheduled flight.

“Health and safety is our top priority and when snow on the airfield reaches a particular depth, it must be cleared before operations can continue.

“Once this morning’s flying programme was under way, there was a fresh period of heavy snowfall, which required further clearing to take place.

“The decision was therefore made to temporarily close airfield operations from 07.45 to 11.30 whilst clearing could take place to return to safe levels.

“We apologise to all affected passengers for any inconvenience and thank them for their patience.”

Ryanair said in a statement: “Due to snowy weather conditions in the UK, we are experiencing a small number of delays/cancellations to our flights from Liverpool and Manchester Airports today.

“While our teams are working hard to minimise disruption to customers, Ryanair advises all customers flying from the UK today to check the Ryanair website/app for flight status updates before travelling to the airport.

“We sincerely apologise for these weather-related disruptions which are entirely beyond our control.”

Lisa Webb, a consumer law expert with Which?, said: “If your flight is cancelled due to snow, you will be entitled to a refund or rebooking, including with other carriers if necessary.

“However, you are unlikely to be owed additional compensation as extreme weather is considered an extraordinary circumstance, outside of the airline’s control.”

The runways were closed for around three hours as snow and slush were cleared to allow planes to land and take off. Credit: MEN Media

Meanwhile, police are also warned motorists to take care while driving as they respond to road traffic collisions on several major roads.

On Saturday morning, North West Motorway Police tweeted: “Snow fall this morning is causing surface water on the regions motorways.

“We are currently dealing with RTC’s on the M58, M62, M61 & A556.

"Please take care if you are heading out today and remember to allow plenty of time & drive carefully.”

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for snow and ice, which is in place until noon tomorrow, 11 December.