March snow: Manchester Airport planes delayed by 'de-icer queue'

passengers on plane Image copyright Carol Lowe
Image caption BBC newsreader Carol Lowe sent an image of passengers waiting on a plane at Manchester Airport

Passengers at Manchester Airport have been stuck "for hours" inside planes waiting to take off due to a lack of de-icers, it has been claimed.

People on board a number of flights said firms had not turned up to clear ice from their planes - forcing the aircraft to queue to be de-iced.

Earlier, Manchester Airport reported "minor delays to departing aircraft".

It said de-icing was the responsibility of airlines and their ground teams but its staff "stepped in to assist".

A Manchester Airport spokesperson said airport staff helped with the "organisation of de-icing, when it was clear a back log was forming and third parties needed assistance".

"At no time today did the airport's infrastructure or services falter."

'Frayed tempers'

A Flybe spokesperson said in "exceptional circumstances" like Friday's heavy snow "it is ultimately the airport that directs the priority in which the de-icing rigs should service the aircraft".

"Airlines can advise their preferences but have no control over any final decision that in such an instance is wholly directed by the airport."

Liz Shimmin, who is due to fly to the Isle of Man with her three-year-old child, said they boarded their Flybe plane at 08:30 GMT but were still waiting after they had been told that they were second in the queue for the de-icer.

She said information had been "inconsistent" and passengers were feeling cold as the doors were being kept open.

Shirley Hale, who is on a Jet2 flight bound for Tenerife, said tempers were "beginning to fray" as passengers waited for information.

Jet2 has yet to respond.

Image copyright Glenys Critchley
Image caption Passenger Glenys Critchley sent this image of their view from a Jet2 plane

BBC North West Tonight presenter Carol Lowe, who was due to fly with Easyjet to Switzerland, said she had been sitting for more than three hours in a plane that was waiting to be de-iced.

"We were due to leave for Geneva at 10:50 but didn't board until midday - at that point we were told the aircraft was number 30 in a queue to be de-iced.

"No sign of that happening yet. The pilot and crew have been fantastic and have been handing out snacks. For now it's a case of sitting tight until it stops snowing."

An Easyjet spokesman confirmed nine flights to and from Manchester Airport had been cancelled and one flight had been diverted to Liverpool.

"While the circumstances are outside of the airline's control, easyJet apologises for any inconvenience caused," he said.

"We are continuing to review the situation and would like to reassure passengers that we are doing everything possible to minimise the disruption."

The airport said it was "fully open for flights" but advised passengers to check the status of their flights with their airline.

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