While the majority of diversions related to weather issues at other airports, Shannon also experienced a rise in emergency diversions where aircraft suffered technical issues or passengers fell ill.
In 2014, the midwest airport saw an almost doubling of medical emergencies handling a total of 22 incidents where aircraft were forced to divert to seek urgent medical attention.
Last year, the number of medical diversions rose to 27, including one incident where a passenger was pronounced dead after a flight landed.
The 64-year-old woman died on board a British Airways flight from Las Vegas to London that diverted to Shannon in June despite the best efforts of cabin crew members to resuscitate her.
Shannon Airport’s Fire and Rescue Service responded to 49 incidents last year compared to 37 in 2014.
There were seven ‘declared aircraft emergencies’ while 11 flights diverted with technical issues. Fire crews were also placed on ‘local standby’ on four occasions for aircraft that diverted but didn’t declare an emergency.
Incidents included reports of fumes on board; possible fires in cargo holds; and a 79-year-old woman whose behaviour forced a crew to land and have her arrested.
The airport also saw a threefold rise in unscheduled landings because of weather, airport closures, or flight crews being “out of hours”. There were 270 such incidents last year compared to just 92 in 2014.
So far this year, there have been two diversions to Shannon as a result of security issues, including a bomb threat.
Last Sunday, January 24, a Turkish Airlines flight from the US to Istanbul made an emergency landing at Shannon after a note with the word ‘bomb’ on it was found on board.
On New Year’s Day, a 41-year-old woman was arrested at Shannon after the crew of Jet2.com flight LS-518 decided to divert and have her removed from the aircraft.
At almost 3.2km in length, Shannon’s runway is the longest in Ireland, while the airport is also the designated emergency landing site for aircraft that get into difficulty.
Cork Airport accepted just one mechanical or operational diversion in 2015 along with some 36 unscheduled landings as a result of weather at other airports.