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Old 2nd Nov 2015, 19:33
  #3401 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: England
Posts: 991
It's hard to handle diverted flights when you have no staff to do so

I find it quite sensible that MAG are avoiding another KLM MD11 'I'm gonna pop the slides' type incident because handling agents can't cope.

It's bad enough on a normal day, let alone throwing extra flights into the mix. People stuck on aircraft for 6 hours doesn't look good for any party involved
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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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Old 2nd Nov 2015, 21:37
  #3403 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: London
Posts: 2,962
It's hard to handle diverted flights when you have no staff to do so
This in itself begs the question of how things have gotten so bad.

Why has pretty much every other major airport (I'm talking in the 3m plus category) git the spare capacity to handle a short notice 'en mass' divert situation without too much trouble, yet Manchester, supposedly an airport of over 40,000 direct on site staff cannot handle even a couple of diverted flights?

There is the worry of bad PR, but, Those incidents are the exception, not the rule. One KLM pilot years ago threatens to pop a slide and 7 years later you are still nervous to accept anything.

BHX regularly handle mass diverts, there are rarely very bad stories emerging from those actions. One or 2 bad stories, but not enough to loose any sleep on.

LPL, primarily a low cost airport, therefore must have the matching staffing levels to handle the lower costs paid by the airlines, and LPL can often take in more diverts than sometimes it's scheduled flying programme for that day!

NCL, GLA, EDI, the list goes on. Even PIK, with just a few Ryanair flights can handle multiple diverts.

So, the question, why are MAN's staffing levels so bad, that it is almost an anomaly in the UK that it barely has enough staff to cover its programme and a single E-Jet would have cause mass pandemonium?

Something has gone fundamentally wrong in this scenario. I'm not for one second suggesting staff are recruited to be on stand by for diverts, however, why can other airports with similar flight structures to MAN cope so well, whereas MAN fails before the fog has even formed by slapping on a no div NOTAM.

Something's not right......
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Old 2nd Nov 2015, 21:55
  #3404 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Manchester, UK
Age: 47
Posts: 695
No disrespect to the places you list LAX, but they are hardly busy and can probably cope with the extra a little easier. Everything about MAN is at stretching point.
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Old 2nd Nov 2015, 22:12
  #3405 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Cheshire
Posts: 1,065
Everything about MAN is at stretching point.
If true, why has it been allowed to happen?

And I don't think BHX, EDI and GLA would appreciate being regarded as 'hardly busy'. Yes, they are not as busy as MAN but presumably would have staffing levels to match, so LAX's comparison is perfectly reasonable.
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Old 2nd Nov 2015, 22:19
  #3406 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: London
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No disrespect to the places you list LAX, but they are hardly busy and can probably cope with the extra a little easier. Everything about MAN is at stretching point.
And with respect back, I don't see how that should affect things. Surely the staffing levels would be to the same ratio to traffic.

For example, PIK only has a few Ryanair flights per day, so, you would assume the staffing levels will be matched to the level of flights. Yet they accept diverts fairly willingly.

BHX has a similar airline and handling agent portfolio to MAN, albeit on a smaller scale, so, one would expect the staffing levels to be on a similar scale to Manchester, but just based on the levels of their traffic. They accept diverts en-masse.

LPL primarily handles low cost traffic. Low cost airlines notoriously pay less for handling etc. therefore, you would expect LPL staffing to be 'tight' to match its low cost mantra. They accept diverts en masses when they can.

NCL, GLA, EDI and so on.

The point is, they obviously have a decent staff > flight schedule ratio that allows diverts to be accepted.

The fact MAN slaps on the no div notam at the drop of a hat, primarily due to staffing levels, means their staff > flight schedule ratio is poor. And one wonders how it got in that situation when other airports seemingly cope well.

It's not about the size, it's what you do with it that counts.
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Old 2nd Nov 2015, 22:27
  #3407 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Manchester, UK
Age: 47
Posts: 695
I realise BHX maybe different to an extent, but lets take PIK for instance, how regular are arrivals ? Staff will not nip home for a brew because there is nothing due in for a couple of hours will they ? They'd probably appreciate something to fill the gaps. I'd say at MAN most are kept busy most of the day.

Don't get me wrong I agree with most you say, I have my own business and can't quite understand the willingness not to generate more revenue, or create relationships, and do feel more could be done with the space MAN has (creative parking), but on the other hand my company does a hell of a lot of business with all MAG airports, and I never get the feeling they are A) understaffed or B) don't know what they are doing, so can only conclude there must be good reason behind it.
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Old 2nd Nov 2015, 22:39
  #3408 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Northern skyport
Posts: 93
Let`s step back a minute and look at the big picture rather than nitpicking about staffing levels, stand availability etc.

If all other airports replicated Manchester`s stance and put a blanket ban on diversions then operations on a foggy day would become unviable. Drastic action would have to be taken and the government would have to step in via the CAA.

The authorities at Manchester should think this through and take their fair share of responsibility rather than leave it to others to shoulder the burden
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Old 2nd Nov 2015, 22:43
  #3409 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: UK
Age: 55
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If true, why has it been allowed to happen?
Its called the race to the bottom.

Low cost carriers are low cost for a reason. Outsource all your ground handling structure and pay peanuts for what you need. The major carriers have followed suit to compete. The result is that to keep their costs down, the handling agents man up for the schedule not for the unexpected.
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Old 2nd Nov 2015, 23:19
  #3410 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Manchester
Posts: 1,106
Fair point, TURIN. But MAN actually has a broad portfolio of air carriers from across the spectrum from ultra no-frills to ultra-prestige. Some other UK airports have no-frills only. Yet Manchester alone is the one which (we are told) can't cope. All those other airports do accept their share of diversions. Including those dominated by no-frills to a far greater extent than Manchester is. So something else must be very wrong.

Here is an idea. Mr O' Toole and his senior ops managers are likely remunerated via an annual bonus for a job well done. So how about this: for every one day that MAN has a 'NO DIVS' NOTAM in force, they forfeit 1% of their annual bonus? It would actually be quite fair, as this farce is costing MAG shareholders precious revenue and profits! I'm sure that under this arrangement the problem would be resolved remarkably quickly.

Don't worry Mr O' T. Only joking. About your bonuses, that is. But this really is a problem. And you really do need to resolve it. If it is a MAG problem, sort it in house. If it is a handling agency problem, give them a minimum performance ultimatum and enforce it. Pretending that MAN is the only airport in the country getting it right on this won't cut it. If every airport operated this way we'd have fuel-starved airliners falling out of the sky.

By the way, about MAN's much vaunted environmental record. How does forcing aircraft displaced from nearby airports such as LPL and LBA to divert to the likes of EDI when you DO have the means to accommodate them actually resonate with that? Just wondering!
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Old 2nd Nov 2015, 23:40
  #3411 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Manchester
Posts: 1,221
There is without doubt a handling issue at MAN. Last year every Rouge departure was late due to check in and baggage loading problems, including the one I was on, almost an hour for bags.
I was on the EK A380 only last week, aircraft in 40 mins early, all closed ready to go on time, another 30 minutes wait to load bags.
Then there was the Luftie A321 I was on, had to taxi back in as the inbound freight had not been off loaded.
Like Shed, I'm both a big user and supporter of MAN but somebody at the top needs to get a grip on the handling.
I attach no blame to the shop floor people, but to those that choose profit over service- that's the airlines and the outsourcers -because in the end it will bite you back. Similar to the King report into Thomas Cook, saying that the company put profit before people. It's a flawed business plan.

Last edited by Mr A Tis; 3rd Nov 2015 at 02:24.
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Old 3rd Nov 2015, 03:59
  #3412 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Usually in a bar!
Posts: 111
If an aircraft was holding because of weather at say Liverpool or Leeds but could not divert to Manchester due the "No Diversion" Notam, that would be thrown out the window by ATC as soon as the aircraft declared a fuel emergency. It would not then fly up to say Edinburgh. It would land at Manchester.
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Old 3rd Nov 2015, 06:34
  #3413 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Cheshire
Posts: 1,065
Well under your (joking) scheme Shed, Mr O'T has lost another 1% of his bonus - the notam is up until midday.

More seriously though, I just wonder if this is indicative of a major (handling?) problem which the airport are aware of and trying to resolve with the relevant parties, and this extreme measure is being taken in the meantime until an answer is found.

MAN has shown itself willing and capable of handling diversions, albeit it on a lesser scale than decades ago, and additional flights in recent years - remember the second snowy winter in 2010 (after a debacle the previous winter) when we took diversions from LHR when it snow-closed and then flights re-scheduled (e.g. CX) to MAN in the days that followed when LHR remained shut. Didn't we even get some praise from airlines for that response?

If however it is now an ongoing problem of staff shortages that isn't being addressed, or a measure taken because of the risk of bad PR or because it's foggy and it makes operations more challenging, then it's not acceptable for an airport that brands itself as the Global Gateway of the North.
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Old 3rd Nov 2015, 06:53
  #3414 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: UK
Posts: 1,827
One or 2 bad stories, but not enough to loose any sleep on.
Problem is that today everyone is a journalist and peeved passengers made to wait, often fairly reasonable times take to social media, ping pictures off to gullible news media; and before you know it a few dimwit journalists (and there are a fair few of them around, and not exclusively in the local and national press, but also on respected broadcast organisations) are blowing a small inconvenience into a full blown "hostage" situation.

Does MAN (or any other airport) want this kind of publicity for the sake of a few hundred extra pounds in net revenue?

You only have to look at the way the accident in Sinai last weekend is being reported. Somehow it's unreasonable that investigators can't give chapter and verse on its cause within 48 hours!
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Old 3rd Nov 2015, 07:06
  #3415 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Manchester, England
Posts: 559
Just a couple of points to add in response to some of what I have been reading.

1. If MAN has a 'No Diversions' NOTAM in force then no flight would be filing MAN as an Alternate and hence not holding overhead whilst trying to find another airport willing to take them, as one poster suggested earlier. If the situation became an emergency then MAN has stated that it will accept them.

2. If ground handling is the issue then the airlines (AOC) will need to investigate and take action, as it is the airlines, and not the airport operator MAG, who let the handling contracts. One would assume that these contracts have some provision for handling diverted flights. I feel certain that MAG will have consulted with the AOC on this issue.
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Old 3rd Nov 2015, 07:18
  #3416 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: stockport
Posts: 201
The thing is that handling agencies declare if they can handle diversions to the airport authority if all of them say the same there is no point in the the airport excepting them as no one could unload or fuel up therefore leaving it untouched as was the KLM MD-11, therefore the airport has to make the decision.

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Old 3rd Nov 2015, 07:35
  #3417 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Cheshire
Posts: 1,065
If the situation became an emergency then MAN has stated that it will accept them.
Roverman, I'm not sure this is a generous concession by MAN, so much as an obligation, or possibly even a legal requirement as I think someone once suggested, to accept an emergency.

However, your two points are well made. It was interesting that no flight declared a fuel emergency to come to MAN and as the fog was well forecast on this occasion, aircraft probably carried maximum fuel anyway.

The situation you mention with regard to contracts I've no doubt is correct. Excuse my ignorance but does AOC stand for 'Airline Operator Committee' and is the airport represented in some way? Although the (aviation) contractual relationship is between airline and handling agent, doesn't the airport have some input if the agents are preventing the airport from functioning as it should? I assume that the agent is a tenant of the airport paying for space and any services provided under a separate contract with them. It could be a messy triangle but there must be some coordinating committee to resolve issues, isn't there?

Please, can we stop mentioning the KLM MD-11? Yes, it was a mess to learn from but it came in as I recall just as we got some heavy snow. And wasn't it the following winter that MAN did things much better and got some good publicity?

I do get the impression that the airport now relies more heavily on what the handling agents advise in making a decision compared to years ago. While this may seem reasonable, if the agents are continually saying they can't guarantee handling diversions satisfactorily, MAN must surely challenge that and demand to know why.

Last edited by MANFOD; 3rd Nov 2015 at 07:49.
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Old 3rd Nov 2015, 08:22
  #3418 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: stockport
Posts: 201
I suppose it all boils down to what the airlines are willing to pay therefore
I guess what goes around comes around and the airlines are to blame
for the mess

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Old 3rd Nov 2015, 08:56
  #3419 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Manchester
Posts: 187
Thomas Cook to launch flights to Tobago for Winter 2016/2017. Looks to be 1 weekly A330-200

WTM 2015: Thomas Cook Airlines to launch Manchester-Tobago route in winter 2016 -
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Old 3rd Nov 2015, 09:24
  #3420 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Kuala Lumpur
Posts: 98
MAN use the airport apron as a car park, who does this?
MAN start Terminal upgrade at the time of max capacity.
MAN Terminal upgrade will take 10 years, yes 10 years.
MAN will have to slow growth because of Terminal upgrade?
MAN more excited about selling land for Airport City, than realising that when the terminal upgrade is finished, there will be no land to grow North side as there are offices. Where will the based frames park?

I can see why MAN cannot accept diversions, it has lost direction and is confused. It is not sure if it is a City, Car Park, Shopping arcade or lastly an Airport.
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