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Tallinn Airport still operating, airlines may decide to cancel flights

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Clearing snow at Tallinn Airport in winter (Photo is illustrative).
Clearing snow at Tallinn Airport in winter (Photo is illustrative). Source: Tallinn Airport

According to Tallinn Airport Commercial Director Eero Pärgmäe, the airport will continue to operate today despite the difficult weather conditions. However, airlines themselves may decide to cancel flights according to their own risk assessments. Up to now, four flights have been cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions.

On Monday morning, the 7.15a.m. flight from Tallinn Airport to Kärdla was cancelled, as was the 6.45a.m. to Brussels, the 10.55 a.m. to Stockholm and the 12.40 p.m. flight to Istanbul. The 1.55 p.m. flight to Frankfurt was also cancelled.

A Ryanair plane, en route from London, circled over Tallinn Airport before opting to land in Helsinki instead. However, an AirBaltic flight from Amsterdam landed safely at Tallinn Airport at 1.40 p.m.

Later in the afternoon, an AirBaltic flight to Paris, which had been due to depart at 3.55 p.m., was cancelled.

"The cancellation of this morning's AirBaltic flight to Brussels was for technical reasons and not due to the weather conditions.  AirBaltic's schedule for the whole day is affected by the fact that they have a technical problem with one of their aircraft," Pärgmäe told ERR.

However, for the other flights, Pärgmäe said decision were made by the airlines involved. "It's down to the airline's own judgement about how it assesses this risk. At the moment we have one plane which has just landed and planes are taking off. The airport is working. The direction of the wind at the moment may actually even be favorable for the airport's operations. Nevertheless, airlines are able to make decisions on their own," Pärgmäe said.

According to Pärgmäe, there are three things that affect the landing of planes. "One is the grip factor, or the slipperiness of the runway, the second is the visibility, which is related to how much snow is falling, and the third factor is the wind direction. The combination of the three will determine whether it is possible to land and take off. It is very difficult to predict now what the situation will be in two or three hours' time," she said.

This means, there is the possibility of more cancellations later in the day. Jane Kallaste, the airport's communications specialist, said passengers should continue to monitor the information available on the airport's website as well as the airline they are due to fly with.

Kallaste also advised people to pay careful attention to the advice of the emergency services when planning their journeys to Tallinn Airport, to determine whether making the trip is viable in the circumstances.

Kallaste added that workers will be on duty throughout the day to keep the runways clear of snow. "The runway is clear and we are fully prepared to receive all the (scheduled) planes," Kallaste said. Eero Pärgmäe, however, stressed that it is definitely not a case of business as usual. "This is an operation under difficult weather conditions. We will take things one hour at a time," said Pärgmäe.

At present, there are several flights still running from Riga to Helsinki, with Pärgmäe adding, that as the storm moves from south to north, Helsinki will probably be considered a safer place to land.

Earlier today, Riga Airport announced that its runway would be closed until 11:00 a.m. due to the weather conditions, according to Latvian national broadcaster LSM.

At 1.37 p.m., Kallaste told ERR, that work to keep the runway clear is in full swing.

Tallinn Airport has now published the video below to show how the runway is being cleared.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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