Bristol Airport, the main airport in southwest England, was closed for several hours Dec. 22 after a bmi regional Embraer 145 slid off the runway while taxiing, according to an airport spokeswoman.

The aircraft had arrived from Frankfurt at 11:36 local time. There were no injuries among the 22 passengers and three crew members, who disembarked and were taken to the terminal by coach.

The incident caused the closure of the airport’s sole runway at the height of one of the busiest days of the year, with thousands of passengers planning to fly out to sunshine or ski destinations for the holiday period.

The airport said in a statement that the runway would have to remain closed while information was gathered to aid investigation of the incident. The aircraft would then have to be towed to a stand and any debris cleared from the runway before flights could resume.

In a further statement at 15:20, almost four hours after the incident, airport authorities said a recovery team had arrived on site with the specialist equipment required to remove the aircraft. “While it is too early to speculate about the cause of the incident, we are confident that it was not related to the low visibility conditions experienced. Additional staff is on hand in the terminal to assist passengers” they said.

Film on social media showed misty conditions.

The spokeswoman was unable to say how many flights had been delayed or diverted, but video footage taken inside the terminal by the local newspaper, the Bristol Post, showed a departures board with around 10 flights canceled and roughly the same number delayed.

The airport authorities later said the runway was unlikely to reopen until 21:00 local time "at the earliest," more than nine hours after the incident. 

Alan Dron