Air passengers have hit out after their flights were disrupted because of continuing problems at the airport.
The chaos has been caused by Ronaldsway updating its instrument landing systems, combined with poor weather.
Reece Carey was on Monday morning’s Easyjet flight from London Gatwick, which after being unable to land, had to return to London.
He said: ‘The flight left more or less on time yet when we approached the Isle of Man, the pilot announced that, due to the adverse weather and a temporary downgrade in equipment in use on the island, the landing would be difficult and that there were multiple aircraft circling the island in the same position.
‘The aircraft had roughly 20 minutes’ worth of spare fuel to try to hold out for a break in the weather and a slot to land, yet this was to no avail and we were directed back to Gatwick where we were to land and the flight would be rescheduled.
‘A roughly one-hour flight turned into close to a three-hour flight.’
On arrival at Gatwick, his flight was rescheduled for 6am the next day.
Mr Carey said: ‘When we arrived at the departure lounge the rescheduled flight was promptly delayed by an hour due to the weather conditions on the island. Everyone was still boarded promptly, yet due to how the weather was in the island and the use of backup equipment, which was referred to as “prehistoric” by the captain, the flight was delayed a further two hours.
‘This meant that the scheduled 6am flight did not leave until around 9am, with around three hours spent sitting in the aircraft on the runway.
‘The delay meant that my partner and I both had to take an extra day off of work, book and pay for a hotel to stay at for the night, account for further expenditure for lunch and dinner time meals, reorganise travel from the airport, as well as being pretty exhausted after three days of being up early to travel from the previous holiday that we were both on.
‘One of my friends couldn’t get on a new flight within an acceptable time frame and had to take the train from London to Heysham the next day to get the boat back.’
While one of the Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) was updated in August 2022, the second is being updated at the moment, meaning that only one runway is currently in use.
Gary Cobb, the airport’s director, last week said that these systems have a technical lifespan of 10 to 15 years but the ones at Ronaldsway were 20 years old and ran the risk of failing.
The airport said: ‘Poor weather is always a risk on the island and although Runway 08 is being used for incoming flights whenever possible, the current wind direction and speed are limiting this option.
‘The airport does not solely rely on ILS and has a number of alternative approach types.
‘These do, however, require pilots to make a decision to land at higher altitudes than ILS and this has been the cause of recent delays and cancellations.’
The works started February 28, and are expected to finish in the first week of April.
Chris Thomas, the Minister for Infrastructure, said: ‘I can make a personal apology to all passengers affected.’
He has requested a report on flight disruptions from the Department of Infrastructure.
We contacted the airport, which was unable to provide comment by the time the Isle of Man Courier went to press.