Twenty-four-hour shifts, 23 diversions and thousands of metres of runway cleaning – these are just some of the key statistics from Shannon Airport’s 72-hour battle with Storm Emma. The airport returned to normal service on Sunday, but only after staff were pushed to the limit in looking after passengers, according to Niall Maloney, Operations Director.
“The elements challenged us like they have rarely done. We have had a lot of testing weather conditions in the past, but Storm Emma was one of the most prolonged weather disruptions we have experienced. But we have fantastic staff here at the airport, who readily go the extra yard whenever they are asked and they did so, effectively from Wednesday.
“Our operations team worked relentlessly night and day fighting snow over a continuous 72-hour period. Once airlines ceased operating on Friday we set a 05.00 time for reopening on Saturday, but the snow overnight was unrelenting and we had to battle really hard to honour that commitment – and we did.
“You could say we fought the snow and we won, but that only happened because of incredibly dedicated staff, some of whom worked 24 hour shifts.
“The best yardstick in terms of how we fared was not having any stranded passengers sleeping overnight at the airport, as our Duty Airport Managers ensured that diverted passengers who needed it got hotel accommodation. We got really positive feedback also with regard to how we communicated with all our customers.”
Andrew Murphy, Managing Director, Shannon Airport, said: “It started as early as Wednesday for us when we took in 21 diversions alone that day from other Irish airports and that, in its own right, was a huge logistical exercise. We are no strangers to adverse weather conditions, and our airport team, led by our Airport Operations Director Niall Maloney, skilfully steered the operation in extreme weather conditions.
“Even as the weather deteriorated over the following days we had issues in terms of staff cover because many of our people were unable to get here. Yet those already here chose to stay on and do double and triple shifts so that passengers could be looked after. That says a lot about the commitment and dedication here.”