Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

Manchester Airport suspends many flights due to snow

Queuing passengers at Manchester Airport
Passengers were left waiting to see if their flight would be re-scheduled

Hundreds of people were stranded overnight at Manchester Airport when flights were suspended due to heavy snowfall.

Planes were grounded and incoming flights prevented from landing due to ice and snow on Sunday afternoon.

Staff worked to clear the backlog and apart from four cancelled flights, the airport is now operating normally.

An airport spokeswoman said many passengers had to stay in the terminals because hotels were booked up.

"The snow has caused some problems but the main issue has been with the ice. It is a huge site so it is taking time to clear and be made safe," she added.

Many flights were left circling until it was safe to land and some were diverted to airports nearby.

No-one told us anything on the desk, we had to find out by someone's else phone as we stood waiting
David Kind, a passenger due to fly to Dubai

Blankets and food were handed out to passengers and retailers stayed open throughout the night, the airport spokeswoman said.

Peter Davies, 60, and wife, Lorraine, 58, from Stockton-on-Tees, were waiting to secure a standby ticket after the cancellation of their flight to New Jersey on Sunday.

The couple had Christmas presents for their two-year-old twin grandchildren who live in the US.

Mr Davies said: "We are very upset. It is a pretty trying time and it's disappointing but there's not much you can do about it.

"We visit a couple of times a year but obviously it's a special time around now and we've got the presents ready."

Passenger confronts Manchester Airport boss Andrew Cornish

David Kind, 61, of Keighley, was in the Air France check-in queue at 0700 GMT when a passenger in front of him received a text message saying their flight to Dubai was cancelled.

He said: "No-one told us anything on the desk, we had to find out by someone's else phone as we stood waiting."

Airport officials have warned people to check with their operators in advance.

The cancelled flights were bound for Amsterdam and Paris.

A further 19 flights were cancelled, but passengers were being rebooked onto later services.

The backlog of 10 flights from Sunday has been cleared because the destination airports had reopened, an airport spokeswoman said.

Grounded aircraft at Manchester Airport
The departures were affected by the closure of destination airports

About 27,000 people were due to depart on 215 flights.

"The airport would like to thank passengers for their patience and those staff who have worked hard to maintain the best possible operation during the unprecedented weather conditions," the airport spokeswoman said.

Many roads around Greater Manchester have also been affected by the treacherous weather.

The outside lane on the M60 is covered in snow and many of the minor roads are extremely icy.

The Snake Pass through the Peak district and the A58 Halifax Road through Littleborough are still closed due to the snow.

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