A Dunrossness woman endured a dramatic journey last night after her flight was diverted to Inverness because of a hole in the runway at Aberdeen Airport.
The runway was closed from 5.10pm because of the small hole, caused by what the airport described as “the incessant rain over the past few days”. It affected flights in and out of Aberdeen.
Workers started repairing the hole but, according to Loganair spokesman Peter Carroll, the airport kept opening and closing. He said: “Loganair has tried different measures, taking people to Inverness and by road to Aberdeen, but the road was blocked as well.” Around 20 people slept in the airport overnight.
Dunrossness woman Frances Black was on board one of the flights diverted to Inverness. She then had to endure a dramatic taxi drive to Aberdeen – encountering snow and floods on the way.
At several points the taxi driver was advised to turn around and was told that if he continued it was at his and his passengers’ own risk.
Mrs Black was travelling to a hospital appointment. Her 4.30pm flight from Sumburgh to Aberdeen was diverted to Inverness, after aircraft crew told them the subsidence in the runway was worse than feared.
At Inverness, passengers had to sit in the plane for two hours before being allowed into the terminal.
Mrs Black then got a taxi to Aberdeen at around 9pm with two other Shetlanders who were planning to visit family in Inverurie.
She said: “We were stopped three times by road maintenance people who advised us to turn back and if we went any further it was at our own risk.
“Heavy snow started at Keith and we were warned to go no further because of a flood.” She praised the taxi driver, who was “amazing”, and when they hit a large piece of water he “took his time” and they got through it.
Near Inverurie they were stopped again.
Mrs Black said: “Police were there saying if we went any further it was at our own risk. We took the back road into Inverurie and got through just after midnight. We were dropped at the front door.”
Mrs Black then spent an unscheduled night at the relative’s house, before getting a taxi to hospital and arriving for her appointment five minutes early.
She said: “If it wasn’t for the other Shetlanders I don’t know what I would have done. I was in a state of disbelief. It was a lovely night with no wind and some towns still had their Christmas lights up. I was starving and we stopped at McDonald’s.
“The driver was so calm and just carried on. It was like a scene from<i> Planes, Trains and Automobiles.</i>”
Mrs Black now has to get home and return for a follow-up appointment in seven days.
She added: “It was unbelievable. At least we canna blame Flybe for the hole in the runway.”This morning two early flights from Aberdeen, including the mail plane, got into Sumburgh, albeit around an hour late, but the mid-morning arrival was delayed for two hours. Two departures from Sumburgh to Aberdeen were also delayed by two hours.
By mid-morning Aberdeen Airport was fully operational, but, according to its website, all flights were subject to delay due to the backlog.
Loganair later said, in a statement issued by Tim Malseed, of PR firm The Big Partnership: “Flight BE6779 from Sumburgh to Aberdeen was diverted to Inverness because of the incident at Aberdeen Airport. As the airport remained closed we arranged ground transportation for passengers allowing them to reach their destinations although road closures due to flooding meant the journey took slightly longer than usual.
“We then cancelled the later Aberdeen- Sumburgh- Aberdeen service as the airport had stopped accepting arrivals and this would have impacted upon the morning schedule.
“Service are now operating out of Aberdeen Airport but subject to delays as we had to reposition two aircraft from Inverness which were unable to return to Aberdeen overnight.”