Air Malta has attributed the disruptions to its flights to Munich Airport to concerns surrounding work personnel and challenging ground handling circumstances at the airport caused by harsh weather conditions.
Over the weekend, southern Germany, together with parts of Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic were hit by a snowstorm, prompting Munich Airport to have all its flights grounded. Temperatures in Munich dropped significantly below freezing point, with it also facing strong cold winds.
The airport, which acts as a central European hub for many travellers, closed down on Friday 1st December, prompting plenty of disruptions to Air Malta’s service to Munich.
The airline on Monday clarified the situation through a detailed statement, stating that it recognises and empathises with the frustrations that the disruptions have caused to customers and crewmembers.
It stated that since the situation started developing on Friday evening, prompting KM309 to be snowbound in Munich Airport, nine Air Malta flights could not operate.
“The airport closure, affecting all airlines, resulted in chaos for the airport, with all hotels quickly becoming booked up, airport shops running out of food and supplies, and thousands of passengers and airline crew stranded at the airport. The speed of events overtook everyone resulting in passengers being confined to the airport building and Air Malta pilots and crew stranded in the aircraft overnight,” Air Malta stated.
The airline revealed that the nine cancelled flights resulted in a total of 1,218 passengers being unable to fly. 528 passengers were unable to fly out of Munich, while 690 were unable to fly from Malta to Munich.
The situation marginally improved, and while the airport opened for limited operations, the airline is yet to receive full permission to operate any short-haul flights, as of the statement on Monday.
Air Malta stated that “limited capabilities to provide aircraft de-icing, disruption to planned work personnel, challenging ground handling circumstances, and limitations on the ability to offer safe operations”, coupled with low visibility and strong winds, were all “understandable contributing factors” to the airport’s slow reopening.
Air Malta stressed that due to the harsh weather, airlines and their operating personal have been unable to carry out the required engineering checks on aircraft “which underpins the number one priority of safety for all travelling”.
On Monday, the Times of Malta reported that a number of Maltese passengers were left stranded at the airport, describing the situation as a “mess”, leaving them sleeping on benches and on the floor, with limited food available.
The airline empathised with the difficulties that customers have faced due to the weather conditions and stated that it is “ready to re-commence operations” to and from Munich as soon as the airport can resume full operations.
A statement on Munich Airport’s website as at the time of writing reads that there will be no take-offs and landings until noon on Tuesday (today) due to freezing rain during the night from Monday to Tuesday, making morning flight operations “impossible”.
“The operating areas will be de-iced in the first half of the day. The plan is to allow air traffic to resume from midday. However, it can be assumed that the majority of flights will also have to be cancelled during the rest of the day for safety reasons,” the airport continued.
It added that passengers should contact their respective airline prior to travelling to the airport since there is “insufficient capacity available at the airport for rebooking”.
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