Strong wind affected ground operations in Keflavik airport on 25th and 26th of February. Landed planes on open stands were unserviceable due to wind gusts, hundreds of passengers and tonns of luggage trapped inside aircrafts. Ground services have to wait for short periods of time when wind calms down a bit to unload people and bags from planes. Delays on ground affected departing flights too.

Flugblogg follows development of the situation in main airport in Iceland since evening 25th February. After 48 hours Flugblogg’s sources report situation does not become better.

25. February

19:30 UTC: Passengers of all flights, arrived to open stands in Keflavik after that time, were trapped inside planes.

23:00 UTC: People are still inside the planes after 4 hours of waiting for wind would calm down. There is no information if they have stock of water and food on board.

23:10 UTC: Ground services started to evacuate people from the Wizz Air plane, which came as WZZ2597 from Riga. Wind is still strong, but it is not possible for them to wait longer.

Offload was necesery because the flight crew was over time. So, we had to offload the pax but the luggage is staying on the plane. Same situation for one of the Easy Jet’s plane„, said Flugblogger’s source. All luggage remains to be keeped inside the plane. Other grounded planes are in stand by mode. In addition, there are two Airbus A330 full of bags and EazyJet A320 on stand 59.

23:30 UTC: Pilots of Wizz Air evacuated flight insist to unload luggage from the plane.

Passengers unloading in Keflavik during the storm 25.02.18 // Source: Flugblogg

26. February

01:20 UTC: Flights are departing with delay from 30 minutes to 4,5 hours.

Numerous delays during departing from Keflavik // Source: Flightradar24

02:40 UTC: Wizz Air flight WZZ2598 to Riga did not departed due to crew overtime, because of previous waiting in the plane during the storm.

18:00 UTC: Wizz Air flight WZZ2598 to Riga departed at 17:44, means with 20 hours delay.

23:00 UTC: Storm wind continues to affect departing flights during 26th of February

Delays of departing flights from Keflavik 26.02.18 // Source: Flightradar24

Flugblogg’s source in Keflavik airport told, that passengers of two Easy Jets and all British airways flights had to wait inside plane for a while, while some got permission to offload only but not to board. Most Wow air aircafts became estimated very late, early after lunch. „This has been a hectic day today in keflavik, wind did not go below gusting 50 until evening“ , the source said.

The weather

Strong wind came to Iceland just before the weekend, but before the Sunday did not affect ground operations. Problems started when gusts reach 50 knots or aproximetly 25 m/s.

According to Meteorological Aerodrome Reports, the most severe weather came to Keflavik at the evening of 25th February and around middat at 26th of February.

Storm in Keflavik, speed of wind and gusts circled in red // Source: NOAA

According to Terminal aerodrome forecast for Keflavik, wind will calm down next 24 hours. It is expected 18 knots (~ 9 m/s) wind on 27th February. It would allow Keflavik airport to return back to normal operations. However, airlines might need more time to re-balance their schedule.

Pushing the limits

There are two reasons why the situation happened, both relates to flight safety. First one is groud services are not allowed to operate on open stands during so high winds and gusts. Any ground equipment, including stairs or baggage loadder, could be moved from its places accidentaly, which would lead to potential damage of people or aircrafts. Check out how it was with wide body Airbus A330-343 of WOW air. After receiving damage because of the wind during towing it was keept in hangar for 1 month. Second reason is wind limits of operating aircrafts. If winds speed is more than 45 knots it is forbiden to open passengers and cargo doors.

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