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Last Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007, 10:37 GMT
Runway reopens at Bristol Airport
The first flight touches down at Bristol International Airport after the runway reopened
Safety grooves have been cut into the temporary runway surface
The runway has reopened and flights have resumed at Bristol Airport after tests had to be carried out due to a safety row.

Ten airlines had cancelled or diverted flights after claims that aircraft had skidded on landing in wet conditions on a refurbished runway.

A total of 385 flights and 25,000 passengers have been affected since the dispute began on Friday.

The runway was closed overnight for work on runway drainage systems.

When flights resumed on Monday, the first flight to land was the 1037 from New York.

Two more flights have since come safely in to land.

Easyjet to resume

"We've had an army of contractors out on the runway over the last 12 hours putting grooves in to increase friction," said Tony Hallwood, Aviation Development Director at Bristol International Airport.

Problems began on Friday after Easyjet raised concerns over the safety of the new 17m resurfaced runway.

The runway was not unsafe
Tony Hallwood, Aviation Development Director at Bristol International Airport
It withdrew services amid fears planes were skidding when landing in wet weather, affecting braking distances.

On Monday a spokesperson for Easyjet said the firm would begin to relocate services back to Bristol later but for the time being 60% of its flights would continue to fly from Cardiff.

"We would welcome the reopening of the runway at Bristol," said Samantha Day.

"EasyJet intends to run a full service from Bristol International Airport tomorrow with all services to run as normal."

Responding to criticism over the amount of time it was taking to sort the problem out, Mr Hallwood apologised to customers and said: "We had to wait for the regulatory authorities to approve this unique form of grooving to the runway.

"As of yesterday afternoon when we gained that approval we fast-tracked our activity to ensure we carried the work over the last 12 hours and we now have a successful conclusion and look forward to passengers returning to Bristol later this morning.

'Primary concern'

"The runway was not unsafe, the CAA made it very clear that they were happy to continue operations and Bristol International has always said over the weekend that we'll never compromise passenger safety."

Holiday company Thomas Cook has also announced a resumption in services from Bristol.

"Following emergency repairs over the weekend to the main runway at Bristol International Airport, Thomas Cook Airlines confirms the re-commencement of a full flying programme from Bristol," read a statement.

"The safety of our passengers, crew and aircraft was our primary concern, and we are happy to be returning to normal operations at Bristol."

At lunchtime on Monday, Air Southwest said it intended to resume all flights to and from the airport straightaway.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Passenger reaction to the delays and cancellations



SEE ALSO
Hopes for end to airport boycott
08 Jan 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Bristol runway shut in safety row
07 Jan 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Safety row disrupts ten airlines
06 Jan 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Holidaymakers 'waiting for hours'
05 Jan 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Flights cancelled in safety row
05 Jan 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Taxiing aircraft 'closed runway'
29 Dec 06 |  Bristol/Somerset

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