In the UK as Storm Ciara makes its presence known, a number of airlines have been suffering from the impact of high winds this weekend. Gales of around 90mph have shaken even the largest of aircraft. As a result, on Sunday a number of A380s have been forced to divert due to Storm Ciara, landing in other parts of England and even backtracking to Europe.
Diversions across Europe
Whilst airlines like British Airways have decided to cancel some of their routes owing to Storm Ciara, other airlines around the world have made normal long-haul journeys and attempted to battle through the strong gusts. Not all have been successful.
Over recent days, a number of airlines have made attempts at landing in the UK only to find it impossible. One airline that has fared particularly badly is Emirates. It’s had two of its A380s divert whilst trying to land.
On 9th February 2020, an Airbus A380 registered as A6-EVD was making its way to London. The aircraft left Dubai International Airport at 07:40 local time (03:40 UTC). The aircraft was expected to touch down in London Gatwick Airport at around 11:40 UTC, however, it was unable to make the landing. Flight Radar 24 shows the aircraft’s flight path circling London before flying backward, despite two attempts to land.
Flight EK15 was then diverted to Zurich in Switzerland, around 600 miles away in the wrong direction. Passengers were accommodated and a replacement flight will operate on 10th February 2020.
Services will resume after Sunday
Unfortunately, Emirates also suffered another diversion of its A380 on the same day. This involved a flight completing a route from Dubai to Manchester. This time, however, the aircraft was diverted to Frankfurt.
A spokesperson for Emirates told Simple Flying:
“Due to heavy winds caused by Storm Ciara, Emirates flight EK17 from Dubai to Manchester and flight EK15 from Dubai to London Gatwick on 9th February have been diverted to Frankfurt and Zurich, respectively. Due to adverse weather conditions and crew duty time limitations, EK17 and EK15 will continue the flight journey to Manchester and London Gatwick respectively, tomorrow. Affected passengers have been accommodated in hotels overnight. Emirates apologizes for any inconvenience caused but the safety of our passengers and crew is of the utmost importance.”
Qatar Airways also diverts out of London
However, Emirates was not alone in its failed A380 landings. Qatar Airways also diverted out of London after two failed attempts to land there.
On 9th February, Qatar Airways flight QR3 left Hamad International Airport in Doha at 07:46 UTC en route to London Heathrow. However, as the A380 aircraft registered A7-APG neared the British capital, it was unable to land. It was scheduled to touch down in Heathrow at 12:04 UTC, however, it continued to fly north where it landed at Manchester Airport at 14:00 UTC.
It is not clear how passengers will reach their final destination, particularly since a lot of train lines have also been affected by Storm Ciara.
What’s the significance of the A380 diversions?
Of course, it’s not just A380s that have been diverted due to the severity of weather conditions around London and the whole of the UK at the moment. However, the diversion of A380s certainly is significant. It demonstrates just how powerful these storms are and how dangerous landing conditions are, even for the largest of aircraft.
The fact that an aircraft with a fully-loaded weight of over 450,000 kg can be swayed by such winds is justification enough that other airlines are rightfully canceling some of their flights.
Other airlines and their widebody aircraft have been forced to divert in Europe after failed attempts at landing in London. A British Airways Boeing 777 registered G-YMMJ was flying to London but ultimately landed in Germany. The aircraft was operating flight BA196 from Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport to London Heathrow but was diverted to Frankfurt on 8th February 2020.
A LATAM flight from Sao Paulo in Brazil to London Heathrow was also diverted due to Storm Ciara. The Boeing 777 operating flight LA8084 headed to Barcelona, Spain after two failed attempts at landing in London.
The outlook for the next couple of days
Hundreds of flights have already been canceled as the worst of Storm Ciara hits the UK. Despite the devastation it has already caused, the storm is not expected to last for long. Weather warnings will stay until Tuesday 11th February 2020 but the storm could continue to wreak havoc in other parts of Europe. Perhaps those favors that London called in will soon need returning.
Have you been affected by Storm Ciara? Share your experiences with us by leaving a comment!