While weather conditions often cause delays and cancellations at UK airports, few could have anticipated the chaos that “fierce winds” visited upon the Firth of Forth at the end of last month. In separate incidents on May 23 and 24, strong winds uprooted trees, damaged buildings, and tore the roof from a walkway at Edinburgh Airport.
The walkway, located in the southeast pier of the hub’s main terminal, leads to an area of the airport occupied by Flybe and Ryanair. The two carriers, which offer 18 and 36 flights from Edinburgh, respectively, operate departure lounges adjacent to the walkway. However, airport bosses say that passengers beneath the damaged roof were never in any danger.
Outside, on the airport’s runway, a fire engine was used to ‘shield’ planes from roof fragments, while five inbound aircraft were diverted to other airports. High winds were blamed for the cancellation of almost 90 departures and arrivals at Edinburgh on Monday last week. Wind speeds are alleged to have reached 80mph, or category 12 (hurricane force) on the Beaufort scale.
The British Red Cross says that 400 people were delayed or stranded overnight by the blustery weather and the eruption of Icelandic volcano, Grimsvotn, which grounded flights from KLM, British Airways (BA), Aer Lingus, and Ryanair on Tuesday, last week. Speaking about the cancellations, a BA spokesperson said that the flag-carrier would "never operate a flight unless it was safe to do so".
Red Cross officials referred to the situation as a “combination of freak weather conditions” that produced “lots of tired and cold families”.
Edinburgh, along with Aberdeen, Newcastle, Durham, and several other airports in the UK, has only recently been granted a reprieve from the threat of disruption, after fears about the return of Grimsvotn’s ash cloud persisted over the bank holiday weekend. The volcano ceased its grumbling on Saturday morning, though reports of Grimsvotn’s slumber did not surface until the following Monday.