Christmas snow causes problems for air passengers

PUBLISHED: 08:14 05 January 2006 | UPDATED: 20:09 28 May 2010

AIRLINE passengers suffered the most when heavy snowfall closed Stansted Airport twice over the Christmas period. The single runway was closed for 35 minutes last Friday so that overnight snow could be cleared. Two Ryanair flights bound for Stansted were

AIRLINE passengers suffered the most when heavy snowfall closed Stansted Airport twice over the Christmas period.

The single runway was closed for 35 minutes last Friday so that overnight snow could be cleared.

Two Ryanair flights bound for Stansted were diverted to Bournemouth and passengers travelling from the Essex airport had to wait up to 40 minutes forle the runway to be back in use.

Stansted also welcomed flights diverted from other nearby airports that had been affected by the weather, including Luton and Norwich, and the airlines provided coaches to take the passengers back to their intended destination.

A Stansted spokesman said all the airport's 40 pieces of snow clearing equipment were deployed during the operation.

The runway was also closed for 40 minutes when snow fell the previous Tuesday.

But this took place at a quieter time of the day and there were no delays or diversions to flights.

Several centimetres of snow fell across eastern parts of the country, including Saffron Walden and south Cambridgeshire, on Christmas Bank Holiday Tuesday and last Friday.

But there were few problems as the Highways Agency's gritters were out in force to keep the area's major roads clear and avoid a repeat of the chaos which left motorists stranded on the M11 after heavy snowfall three years ago.

But this time the gritting lorries were out in force sanding the M11, A11 and A120 before the snow arrived.

In January 2003, drivers were left stranded for 20 hours on the M11 when 12 lorries jacknifed ahead of them in freezing conditions, and on the A505 Duxford-Royston road drivers were also forced to abandon their cars.

The agency, which looks after England's motorways and trunk roads, was criticised for failing to grit the roads in time.

This time an agency spokeswoman said: "The M11 was fine. It was open and it was running normally.

"The road was gritted and the traffic was moving slowly and carefully."

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police said there were no serious crashes or traffic jams on the roads in the south of the county, which includes part of the M11 as well as the A505 and A1307, in the Linton and Sawston area.

And Pc Bellingham, of Bocking traffic police, reported no major crashes on the M11, although a few cars skidded off the icy road.

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