Riga Airport Runway Temporarily Closed Due To Weather

Riga International Airport (RIX) was forced to temporarily close and cease all operations yesterday following one of the heaviest snowfalls ever seen in Latvia. The country’s national weather agency issued a red warning due to the severity of the snow, which left much of the city at a standstill.

airBaltic A220
An airBaltic A220 got stuck in the snow at Riga Airport. Photo:airBaltic

With visibility down to less than 500 meters and snow-covered roads, people were advised to drive only if necessary. National weather agency Meteo. Lv said that its first-ever red weather warning would be in effect until 8:00 p.m. on Friday, when the snowfall was expected to ease. It has been snowing on and off in Riga since Wednesday, with meteorologists predicting an accumulation of around 14 inches of snow on the ground by Friday afternoon.

An airBaltic Airbus A220 skidded off the runway

RIX authorities decided to close to all traffic after a plane from the country’s flag carrier airBaltic slid off the airport’s only runway. Fight BT102 arriving from Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN), slid off the runway after landing just before noon on Friday. The aircraft, an Airbus A220 with the registration YL-CSE, managed to stop without any passengers or crew members being injured.

Groundworkers at Riga Airport did their utmost to keep the airport’s single runway operational but could not keep up with all the snow. Apparently, the airBaltic A220 landed safely, but when taxing off the runway started to slide and got stuck in the snow. Some passengers took to social media to talk about what had happened and said at no time did they fear for their safety. All 44 passengers aboard the 50-minute flight were transported to the airports terminal. The plane was then later towed to the hangar for inspection.

The decision was made to close the airport

Following the airBaltic incident, the decision was made to temporarily close that airport and divert all incoming flights to other locations. In a statement about the record snowfall and the airBaltic incident Riga Airport said:

“The consequences of today’s aviation accident have been eliminated; however, the heavy snowfall continues to influence the Airport’s operations. Due to snowfall and for flying safety reasons, it has been decided to close the airfield until 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning.”

airBaltic aircraft
Riga Airport had to shut down due to a snowstorm. Photo:airBaltic

“We, at this moment, ask the passengers who have scheduled flights from Riga Airport tonight do not go to the Airport and contact their airlines because flights might be canceled or significantly delayed. We hereby ask the passengers to note that the heavy snowfall influences other means of transport, including public transport, to and from the Airport. Information about flights is available at the Airport’s website www.riga-airport.com.”

The airBaltic incident is the latest in a series of mishaps involving aircraft in snowy conditions. A Red Wings Sukhoi Superjet 100 slide of the runway Norilsk Airport (NSK) in Russia last week, as did a Finnair A319 when landing at Ivalo Airport in Finland.

Finnair A319
A Finnair A319 got stuck in a snowbank. Photo: Estormiz via Wikimedia

Riga Airport reopened to traffic early this morning, but looking at the airport’s website, we can see that many departing and arriving flights are delayed

Have you ever been on a flight that skidded off the runway in the snow? If so, please tell us what happened in the comments.