Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024
alert-–-leeds-bradford-airport-reopens-after-tui-plane-skidded-off-runway-in-storm-babet-weather-chaosAlert – Leeds Bradford airport reopens after TUI plane skidded off runway in Storm Babet weather chaos

Leeds Bradford Airport has re-opened after a dramatic incident that saw a TUI airliner skid off the runway amidst the chaos sown by Storm Babet.

LBA bosses opened the facility at 11.30am, having previously pushed back expected opening times of 10am and 11am following the incident involving TUI flight BY3551, which ran into trouble as it came in to land from Corfu on Friday afternoon.

The 195 passengers and crew on board were able to disembark safely despite the close shave – but work has been undertaken to pull the jet free from the grassy verge at the side of the runway where it had been ditched.

In a statement issued at 11.30am on Saturday, the airport said: ‘We are pleased to report that Leeds Bradford Airport is now open. 

‘Passengers travelling should contact their airline to check the status of their flight before travelling to the airport as there will be continuing disruption.’

Leeds Bradford Airport will be closed until at least 2pm on Saturday after a TUI jet speared off the runway on Friday afternoon

Emergency services at the scene after the TUI jet came to rest in a grassy verge at the side of the runway at Leeds Bradford Airport on Friday

The wheels of the plane dug into the grass as the jet ground to a halt (pictured: airport staff assessing the scene)

Dramatic photos show the TUI aircraft ditched to the side of the runway at Leeds Bradford Airport this afternoon

READ MORE: ‘Brace yourself’: Passengers on TUI flight that skidded off the runway at Leeds Bradford airport in Storm Babet weather chaos say they knew ‘jet was not going to stop’

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It continued: ‘We understand the significant disruption and inconvenience for passengers departing for their holidays and returning home. 

‘We are grateful for the patience and understanding our passengers and business partners have shown during this difficult time.

‘The LBA team and partners have worked tirelessly throughout the night in torrential conditions to recover the aircraft in order to safely reopen the runway and airport. 

‘It has been a huge team effort from all corners of the airport and our partners.

‘We want to express our sincere gratitude to everyone involved in supporting the effort dealing with the incident, disruption and recovery of the aircraft in exceptionally difficult conditions.

‘Once again, we would like to thank our passengers for their cooperation and understanding during this challenging period.’

The reopening has been delayed a number of times as airport bosses wrapped their heads around how to remove the jet from the boggy grass. 

Previous statements suggested they had hoped to reopen at 10am, then 11am, before pushing the time back to 2pm – ahead of the unexpectedly early resolution.

Images posted on social media suggested that the Boeing 737-800 – which weighs 41 tonnes unladen – was still sitting at the edge of the runway as of 8am this morning.

Passengers had taken to social media to ask for more details on the reopening – and blasted the airport for, they claimed, failing to keep them up to date.

One said: ‘Absolute shambles. Absolutely understand if you’re struggling to pull that weight off the grass when it’s sinking, but people can’t rearrange flights when you don’t be realistic about timings. Flight booked for 5.30pm…odds of it going ahead…200/1?’ 

The photos show the plane stuck in thick mud after it skidded off the runway on landing

Passengers can be seen being helped off of the airliner after the bumpy landing on Friday

Passengers took to social media to criticise what they said was a lack of information coming from Leeds Bradford Airport about the re-opening

READ MORE: Storm Babet keeps battering Britain: 70mph gales and heavy rain hammer Scotland and the north with red ‘danger to life’ warning as three die and 55,000 were left without power 

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Another wrote: ‘Surely there are some local Yorkshire farmers that can pull it out the grass with their tractor.

‘Whoever is in charge of the operation at LBA needs to get their finger out.’

A third added: ‘Credit to the emergency services. But for the 20-30 plane loads of passengers stuck in the terminal for 6 hours. No information, the PA system and board announcements not working. A complete management failure to handle the situation. Shocking and lucky to avoid a riot.’

The TUI flight, which departed from Corfu just after 12.30pm local time (10.30am BST), was attempting to land at the airport in strong winds when the Boeing 737-800 slipped off the tarmac and was left stranded on the grass. 

The airport’s emergency siren is understood to have activated when the aircraft careered off the runway upon landing at around 1.53pm BST. Witnesses described it as a ‘hard landing’. 

Malcolm Fell, who was on the flight, described the incident as ‘a little bit dramatic’ but everyone onboard was ‘quite calm’. 

Recalling his experience, he said: ‘The plane came down and the pilot applied reverse thrust on the brakes and it started to aquaplane,’ adding that ‘it seemed to speed up rather than slow down’.

Mr Fell added: ‘My wife, [who] was sat next to me, turned to me and said: “I think you better brace yourself because this is not going to stop.”

‘And then all of a sudden…we were at a standstill on the grass,’ he said.

Passenger Mr Fell said the left side of the plane was ‘covered in mud’ following the landing. 

‘Everybody was quite calm, there was no screaming  or drama or anything like that.

‘It took us about an hour to get us off the plane because the emergency serviceskicked in to make sure that the plane was secure before they evacuated us.’

He added: ‘Great thanks to the airport – they worked really well to get people off the plane.’

Weather alerts remain in place for much of Scotland and northern England into Saturday

Hundreds of flood alerts have been issued across England, Scotland and Wales (abandoned cars in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, pictured above)

The floods have led to homes in Angus, eastern Scotland, being evacuated (pictured: a family are carried to safety on an inflatable raft in Brechin)

READ MORE: Posing up a Storm! Revellers smile for pictures as they brave Storm Babet to enjoy a good night out

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Footage showed the plane being quickly surrounded by emergency vehicles, including three ambulances, as they worked to try and evacuate passengers.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said there were no reported injuries and no fire. But all flights in and out of Leeds Bradford Airport were temporarily halted with some arrivals diverted to other airports including Manchester.

The storm has caused another day of mayhem in Britain with a rare red weather alert issued by the Met Office warning of a ‘danger to life’ – and three people have already lost their lives.

Fiona Marr, who witnessed the incident unfold, told ITV: ‘I took my son who’s off school poorly to watch the planes for a little bit, saw it land and skid and then a really loud alarm from the airport, which I’ve never heard before.

‘Then the two fire engines went straight to it and about 20 mins later some ambulances came but it was hard to see if anyone was on the ground.’

She told Sky News it was a ‘hard landing’, adding: ‘Straight away there was a really loud alarm coming from the airport which I’ve not heard before – and we go up there a lot.

‘Then the engines came straight away. They [the passengers] must have been terrified.’

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said on Friday: ‘We are in attendance at an incident at Aircraft Ground Incident at Leeds Bradford Airport, in conjunction with other emergency services.’

In a new statement, TUI said: ‘We would like to apologise to all those impacted by the ongoing closure of Leeds Bradford Airport following an incident that took place shortly after landing on TOM3551 on Friday 20th October.

‘The safety of our customers and crew is our number one priority and can confirm there were no reported injuries, with all passengers disembarking the aircraft via the steps. 

‘TUI customers due to travel on their holiday today will depart from Manchester Airport and have been contacted directly by our customer service team.

‘TUI Airways is assisting the AAIB with their investigation and working hard to support the reopening of Leeds Bradford Airport.’

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