Passengers from a flight that made an emergency landing at Shannon Airport on Wednesday had to be bussed across the country to hotels ‘near’ Dublin, as there weren’t enough rooms available in the Shannon area.
Travellers were left stranded in Shannon for several hours on Tuesday after their Delta Air Lines flight from Edinburgh, Scotland to Boston in the U.S. was forced to divert and make and emergency landing at Shannon Airport.
Delta Air Lines flight DL-123 took off from Edinburgh Airport at around 12.30pm on Tuesday bound for Boston in the United States. Soon after departure, the crew of the Boeing 767-300(ER) reported ‘serious issues’ with one of the aircraft’s hydraulic systems.
The crew entered a holding pattern off the Scottish coast as they attempted to troubleshoot the problem but soon afterwards declared an emergency and diverted to Shannon.
The issue involved the aircraft hydraulic system that operates a number of aircraft functions including nose-wheel steering. The crew advised air traffic controllers that they would not be able to vacate the runway after landing as they believed they would not have nose-wheel steering. The crew also confirmed they would be ‘landing fast’ and would require the full length of Shannon’s runway, which, at 3,199 metres is the longest in Ireland.
On the ground at Shannon Airport, an emergency plan was put into action which involved alerting the local authority fire service, HSE, National Ambulance Service and An Garda Síochána. Units of Clare County Fire and Rescue Service from Shannon and Ennis stations were mobilised to the airport along with a number of National Ambulance Service resources and Garda units.
The aircraft landed safely at 1.43pm and the crew confirmed they had steering capability and would be able to vacate the runway under their own power. Rescue vehicles pursued the aircraft along the runway after it landed while fire crews used thermal imaging cameras to inspect the plane’s braking system and undercarriage to ensure it hadn’t overheated during the emergency landing.
Passengers were later deplaned but were not allowed into the airport’s transit lounge and were ‘locked’ in to an area at the end of the main terminal building. Posting a photograph of a locked door, one passenger said on Twitter: “Need to say that the flight crew and pilots here on the ground are incredible – going above and beyond as always with @Delta. However corporate in ATL (Atlantic) is leaving us hung out to dry here with no options or information. We are now on hour 4 here in #SNN (Shannon) literally locked in.”
Hours later, passengers were transported to Dublin where they were accommodated in hotels as, according to the airline, there were no hotel rooms available in the Shannon area. This meant passengers only had a few hours sleep before they would have to return to Shannon at 5.00am.
A hotel industry source confirmed that several local properties were contacted to see whether they had rooms available. He said: “There were very few if any rooms available in Clare or Limerick on Tuesday night. It’s very busy at the moment. It’s very unusual for this to happen but we are often contacted when a flight diverts and rooms are needed. Unfortunately there were none on this occasion.”
Passenger Chris Rotella opted to search for a hotel room himself. He said: “Delta is busing people to Dublin (3hr) for a hotel then back tomorrow morning at 5am. But they kept us locked in the airport until 8pm so by the time check in happened, it would have been midnight. We paid for our own hotel in Limerick hope to depart at noon now.”
A replacement Boeing 767 aircraft arrived in Shannon from JFK International Airport in New York on Wednesday morning to collect the passengers. This aircraft was due to depart at midday on Wednesday but this was changed to 12.30pm. At around 2.30pm, passengers began boarding the rescue flight, more than twenty four hours after the incident aircraft first diverted.
It was 3.40pm before flight DL-9887 finally departed Shannon for Boston while the incident aircraft is expected to remain grounded at Shannon until the mechanical issued has been resolved.
Mr Rotella tweeted on Wednesday afternoon: “Still at #SNN (3hr now) and not a single @Delta employee has made contact with the passengers waiting to board an even more delayed flight to #BOS. Nobody was sent from #DUB to help. They switched equipment so everybody is mixed up/many have no seats. Jet bridge not even attached.”
Delta Air Lines issued a statement saying: “Customers on Delta flight 123 on July 12th from Edinburgh to Boston, safely diverted to Shannon, Ireland after a mechanical issue with the aircraft, are now being accommodated in hotels overnight near Dublin, the closest available and with ground transportation and meals provided. Customers will continue onto Boston tomorrow (Wednesday) morning after transiting back to Shannon.”
The airline added: “Delta apologises to our customers for the delay in their travel plans. Representatives from Delta are contacting each customer with an additional apology.”
Need to say that the Flight Crew & pilots here on the ground are incredible – going above & beyond as always with @Delta – however corporate in ATL is leaving th/us hung out to dry here with no options or information. We are now on hour 4 here in #SNN literally locked in pic.twitter.com/PgeyFjh38y
— Chris Rotella (@chrisrotella) July 12, 2022