airBaltic A220 Taxis Off The Runway In Riga Amid Snowfall

An airBaltic A220 has slid off the runway in snowy conditions in Riga, Latvia. The aircraft was flying in from Stockholm when the incident occurred. Forty-four passengers were onboard and the airline reported no injuries. The aircraft is being inspected in the hangar.

airBaltic A220-300
An airBaltic aircraft has ended up in the snow. Photo: airBaltic

airBaltic A220 ends up in snow

Flight BT102 is airBaltic’s daily Stockholm to Riga service, leaving Stockholm at 09:00 each day and arriving in Latvia at just after 11:00. Today’s service was using a four-year-old Airbus A220-300, delivered new to airBaltic in June 2017. It is registered YL-CSE and carires the name Kuldiga.

Today, the service pushed back almost an hour late at Stockholm, leaving the gate at 09:56 local time. But with a favorable wind, the service took only 56 minutes, despite carrying a scheduled time of an hour and five minutes. The A220 touched down in Riga at 11:52 local time.

But conditions in Riga were difficult, with temperatures of around -2°C (29 °F). Snow has been falling on and off since Wednesday, with between 20 – 35cm (8 – 14 inches) estimated by this afternoon.

Despite Riga’s best efforts to keep the runway clear, conditions were treacherous as the plane touched down. The A220 landed safely and began to taxi out, but, as it was vacating the runway via a taxiway, the aircraft veered off the paved surface and became stuck in the snow.

Photos and videos shared online show the A220 in deep snow, with airport workers digging a path to the air stairs to allow the passengers to deplane. Because the aircraft is partially on the runway, the airport has had to close temporarily. All flights to Riga are currently being diverted to alternative airports.

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Not a serious incident

While it’s going to be frustrating for the airport until the A220 can be moved out of the way, the incident was not serious. Comments from passengers online suggest there was no bumpy excursion, and that at no point were they fearful for their safety. One wrote on Instagram,

“Welcome to Latvia ! Big thanks to @airbaltic pilot for professionalism !!!! Thanks to all the rescuers and airport staff who released us quickly! Super !!! We drifted and stopped nicely 🙏🏼❤️ “

Another posted to Twitter,

“An unforgettable week: returning to Riga, a Stockholm plane landed on the runway. Thanks @airBaltic to the crew, the airport, the firefighters and the NMPD for their prompt action, peace and professionalism! As far as I understand, nothing serious has happened to anyone.”

The airline was swift to release a statement on the incident via its social channels. The statement confirmed that the incident took place, but noted that all 44 passengers on the aircraft were safe and well. It doesn’t mention whether there was any damage to the aircraft, but says that it will be towed to the hangar for inspection.

Just days ago, a Red Wings SSJ 100 slid off the runway in snowy conditions in Russia, and a Finnair Airbus A319 ended up lodged in a snowbank when landing at Ivalo (Finland). Winter is most definitely coming, and could present more challenges for airlines before the summer returns.

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