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Airport benefits from big freeze

SHANNON Airport has received thousands of extra passengers and welcome additional revenue over the past two weeks as heavy snowfall resulted in the closure of numerous European airports.

Shannon has stayed open throughout the prolonged cold snap and has in the past two weeks received as many as 50 diverted flights from all over the world destined for Dublin, London and other European airports.
A severe weather warning is in place in Clare since Tuesday, with no respite likely until Christmas Day. Met Eireann is predicting further sub-zero temperatures in the county but has said the worst of the snow showers have now passed.
Extreme weather has caused havoc for motorists and pedestrians countrywide with knock-on effects on retail and service businesses.
Those hoping to travel by bus, train and aeroplane have also been affected, with many flights grounded due to snow and ice at destination airports.
“The worst of the snow showers passed early on Tuesday but scattered show showers were predicted throughout the day. It will stay cold overnight with further frost and icy roads and freezing fog patches. Conditions will remain the same on Wednesday, staying very cold and frosty but mostly dry. Wednesday night will also be cold and frosty with freezing fog patches. These could linger through the day.
“On Thursday and Friday we will have a lot of dry weather in the area but it will stay cold. It looks like the milder weather will be coming in with rain spreading from the west on the evening and night of Christmas Day, bringing a return to more normal temperatures,” Jim O’Brien, meteorologist, told The Clare Champion.
While the rest of the country has been very badly affected by snow and ice, large parts of Clare remained free of heavy snow.
The reason certain areas escaped the worst of the weather, according to Mr O’Brien, is most likely down to wind direction.
“Because of the direction of the winds, it is not bringing the showers in from the sea as much as is happening in East Leinster and parts of the North,” he explained.
The mean temperature so far in December was 0.5oC, a drop of 3oC from last year.
According to Niall Maloney, head of operations at Shannon Airport, the cold weather has proved challenging for the airport.
“We have been quite fortunate not to get the snow other areas got. We have still had to deal with ice and freezing conditions. We have 24-hour snow and ice crews in place to make sure planes and runways and the taxiways are safe to accept aeroplanes. There is a huge commitment from the airport to make sure it remains open. People don’t see it but it takes a massive effort from ourselves, the handling companies, the fuel companies and everyone else to make sure we can accept diversions and keep the airport open to make sure that people can get to their final destination,” he said.
Mr Maloney revealed that the airport had accepted 50 diversions in the past two weeks, which brings with it added business for the airport and its hinterland.
“Shannon Airport is affected in two ways by this weather. While the airport here is fully operational, passengers’ destination airports may be having difficulties, with the result that flights are either delayed or cancelled. On the positive side, we are getting a lot of diversions in. On Saturday there were eight diversions, which saw an extra 2,300 passengers landing in Shannon. These people stayed in the local hotels for two nights. They left on Monday night and Tuesday morning for London Heathrow and Manchester airports. On Monday night there were five diversions from Dublin Airport. In the previous two weeks we would have had about 50 diversions. In fairness to the local coach operators, the hotels and the local community, they are very cooperative and the whole thing works seamlessly and even though the passengers have not arrived at the airport they intended to be at, the feedback has been quite positive,” Mr Maloney commented.
Flights from Mexico, Tokyo, San Francisco and Nigeria were all forced to land in Shannon in recent days but airport bosses are hoping to continue ‘business as usual’ and remain open for the coming days and weeks.
“While Shannon Airport is fully operational, we would request passengers to contact their airlines to make sure their flight is operating, especially if their destination airport is experiencing delays or cancellation,” Mr Maloney concluded.


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