News / Disruption to flights

PEOPLE expecting to fly to and from Shetland on Tuesday morning were faced with several hours of delays after high seas washed debris onto the runway at Sumburgh Airport.

Workmen used diggers and other heavy plant to clear the east extension of the runway, which is currently being repaired as a result of previous weather-related damage.

The first flight scheduled to leave for Kirkwall at 7.35am was cancelled. The Edinburgh flight, due to depart shortly afterwards, was four hours late.

The situation was getting back to normal by lunchtime when the airport had managed to work through most of the backlog.

Ever since the £10 million extension was completed in 2006, the runway has been eroded by the onslaught of the sea.

Runway repairs are being carried out thanks to the Scottish Government stepping in with a £12 million grant. Partners Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) and Shetland Islands Council remain locked in a legal battle over who is responsible for the project’s failure to stand up to Shetland’s winter weather.


In January a workman was injured when the digger he was driving toppled into a hole that opened up beneath him while repairing the runway.

On Tuesday, airport manager Nigel Flaws was not available for interview all day.

A HIAL statement issued in the late afternoon gave no indication as to whether Monday night’s storms had damaged the runway extension.

It said: “In terms of the ongoing runway repair project, the project remains on target for completion by the end of the calendar year.”

It continued: “As a result of the storm damage, the overspill car park that was intended to be used during the October school holidays is waterlogged and will be out of use.

“Parking marshalls will be in place in the usual car park to ease congestion, however passengers are advised to use public transport or car share wherever possible.”

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Meanwhile, ferry travel continues to be disrupted due to the high seas and force eight easterly winds.

There will be no southbound ferry from Lerwick to Aberdeen on Tuesday, and the Hrossey, due to depart Aberdeen for Kirkwall and Lerwick, will be delayed until around midnight.

Ferry operator Serco NorthLink said that check-in time will remain at between 3pm and 4.30pm, and the ferry will not call at Kirkwall.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said that appliances had been called out four times overnight to help householders at Fladdabister, Wester Skeld, Clumlie and Culswick affected by flooding.

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