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Guernsey airlines frustrated by airport runway closure

Niall Duffy from Flybe
Mr Duffy said the inability to use chemicals was frustrating

Airlines operating out of Guernsey Airport have said they are frustrated by the inability of the authorities to keep the runway open in bad weather.

The airport was closed for three days last week while similar airports remained open in worse weather.

Flybe and Blue Islands have both expressed their concern at the closure.

The Public Services Department, which is responsible for the airport, has reviewed its response to the situation and is looking into other solutions.

Alternative to salting

Niall Duffy, of Flybe, said the inability to use chemicals to clear the runway, due to the water system, was almost unique in the airports they operate.

He said: "One of our frustrations is because of the water system within the island it's impossible for the runway to be cleared using chemicals, which would be the case in literally every single other one of the 37 airports we fly from."

Not being able to use salt on the roads also came under similar criticism.

Guernsey Water said last week that to clear salt from the water system would require a desalination plant, which would cost "millions".

The department said it hoped an alternative to salting could help avoid the closure of Guernsey's roads and airport runway during future freezing weather.

It is investigating the use of Calcium Magnesium Acetate, as it is claimed the chemical could be used on the runway to enable snow and ice to be cleared more quickly, but it would still have to be used selectively on the island's roads.

Colin Le Ray, the director of Guernsey Airport, said treating the runway would need to be a case of being "proactive rather than reactive".

He said: "We would look forward at the forecast, treat the runway in advance of any ice forming, ice would still form and the runway would still be closed.

"The practical difference is, if we've had a chance to put down some kind of compound first we can get on to sweep much earlier than you can when ice has formed on the runway, because it creates a film between the runway and the ice itself."



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SEE ALSO
Flights resume after ice delays
08 Jan 10 |  Guernsey
Airport closes following snowfall
07 Jan 10 |  Guernsey

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