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Old 2nd Nov 2015, 21:19
  #3402 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Manchester
Posts: 1,106
People stuck on aircraft for 6 hours doesn't look good for any party involved
But that is a PR problem. Not a safety one. They're on the ground. Better on the ground than stuck in the air with fuel reserves dwindling by the minute and weather conditions deteriorating at the few other airports which remain options. Once on the ground, the aircraft is safe. Only the inconvenience factor remains.

Consider the scenario of an A320 from Belfast to Liverpool. Destination is below limits, but MAN has the 'NO DIVS' NOTAM in force. So what happens then? Well, rather than just flying a simple 5-minute approach into Manchester the aircraft must hold (which it has likely been doing for a while already) whilst an airport willing to accept the flight can be identified. Then ATC must enter a reroute, coordinate the flight with adjacent sectors and establish the aircraft on its new route. If that destination is Edinburgh (happened today) it then remains in the busy ATC system for an extra 45 minutes or so with the extra workload that implies, and the aircraft burns even more of its fuel reserves. Meanwhile, ATC, already really busy with all the aircraft affected by these conditions must cope with this scenario multiple times over. Because this is apparently far preferable to a handling agent at MAN being inconvenienced. They don't have spare staff ... well, do you think ATC have? And the expense and inconvenience of bussing displaced pax all over the country ... hey, who cares?

Finally, when the aircraft lands at EDI ... guess what? It requires use of a stand and the services of a handling agent. Apparently such elusive services exist at airports such as EDI, GLA, BHX etc. Only at Manchester, third largest airport in the country, do such resources apparently not exist. But of course, they do exist ... there is just no will at this one airport to knuckle down and put in a shift like everywhere else has to do when weather conditions deteriorate. And the handling agents at these other airports (not exactly over-resourced themselves BTW) are on similar terms and conditions and under the same pressures as their MAN counterparts. Many of them actually share the same employer.

Why does MAN alone get to put the blinkers on, behave like a primadonna and leave ATC, airlines and other airports to cope with the fallout and pick up the pieces? Even LHR and LGW don't operate in this way. Be assured, MAN doesn't look good to those in the industry for persistently pulling this stunt.

MANCHESTER HAS A REPUTATION WITHIN THE INDUSTRY AS BY FAR THE WORST AIRPORT IN THE UK TO DEAL WITH IN A MASS-DIVERSION SCENARIO. AND ONE OF THE WORST IN EUROPE. That's not something to be proud of. It is actually a complete disgrace and not something we can smugly dismiss because MAN is better than everywhere else. Airport management should endeavour to resolve this shameful situation, not justify and extend it. We all know that MAN cannot accept a free-for-all but nobody is asking for that. They should, however, contribute such assistance as they can. That means making available the spare capacity they do have - not as much as we might want, but certainly more than zero - and not completely banning small executive types by reason of a catch-all NOTAM which doesn't even give them a second thought.

Note that this posting comes from one frequently accused of being a 'Manchester Supporter', an apologist who will defend the airport come what may. No. I'll dole out the praise when it is warranted, but I'll air the constructive criticism too. And the mindless 'NO DIVS NOTAM' for every scenario is one topic on which constructive criticism is very much called for.
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