A huge storm in the first hours of the night of the 29th of April 2016 has caused chaos at Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD). Various experts consulted by Cinco Dias said the situations was one of the worst for the airport in the last years.
The storm with very strong lightning has forced planes trying to land at MAD to divert to other near airports, like Valencia or Barcelona. Some of them even had to declare fuel emergencies and those were the planes that landed in Almeria, Valencia, Alicante and one landed successfully in Madrid.
Of the flights that had to divert five landed at Zaragoza, six at Valencia, seven at Alicante, two at Almeria, one at Sevilla, one at Albacete and six at Barcelona.
Many of this airport had huge problems because they didn’t have enough parking spaces for all the planes coming in as diversions from Madrid.
Between 9 PM and midnight the airport authorities had to shutdown all operations at MAD with a rate 0, no departures and no arrivals were allowed. A very delicate situations as the 1st of May comes in.
Ignacio Gonzalez, the director of the ATC of Enaire, has admitted his bad the situation was saying that “A storm like this wasn’t seen in Madrid at least since 2011. The situation was particularly bad because the rate of arrivals was a lot higher than normal. Luckily the system was prepared for such a huge storm and everything was solved. During the night the diverted flights could have landed back at Barajas”.
With more than 30 planes in the air waiting to hopefully land at MAD the ATC controllers were forced to ask the military base of Torrejón to allow some of the planes to land there. However, the authorization to land at the base was delayed by more than 40 minutes when the weather conditions got better and planes gradually started to land at Barajas.
Interviewed controllers said that this kind of situations could be avoided if prepared in advance, like diminishing the number of arrivals based on the weather to avoid potentially dangerous situations.