£1m of new equipment fails to keep Edinburgh airport open

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EDINBURGH airport invested £1 million in brand new snow clearance and de-icing equipment this year, owner BAA has admitted - yet only managed to operate a handful of flights during the past couple of days.

A spokesman said the airport had upgraded its equipment after heavy snow falls last year left it unable to cope. But the majority of flights scheduled between Saturday and Monday were cancelled as snow showers left workers unable to clear the runway to allow planes to depart safely.

Edinburgh airport was the only major hub in Scotland which has been forced to close for prolonged periods as a result of the snow - with Aberdeen and Glasgow managing to remain largely open. "The snow has been worse in Edinburgh than elsewhere in the country - it's as simple as that," said BAA spokesman Gordon Robertson.

Only three flights were able to take off or land on Monday - with only a small number able to get airborne on Sunday.

The airport was open from noon yesterday, with the majority of flights able to depart, albeit with delays.

BAA's investment to combat the cold weather was spent on snow blowers, de-icing equipment and staff training.

But Mr Robertson said that Edinburgh could not be expected to compete with airports in continental Europe, where staff were geared up to deal with prolonged periods of severe winter weather.

Scottish airline Loganair said yesterday it had invested 250,000 of its own cash into de-icing equipment at airports in Inverness, Aberdeen and Shetland to ensure it could continue to serve its Highland routes.

Inverness Airport was forced to shut for a few hours on Monday after a contractor ran out of de-icer.

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