By Humphrey Carter
DENSE fog caused havoc with flights at Balearic airports for the second day running yesterday and also forced the port authority to close Palma harbour for over an hour. The fog, which started to build up on Sunday afternoon, completely enveloped Palma's Son San Joan airport in the early hours and did not start to lift until 11.30am. The airport was forced to cancel 16 flights while a further 21 were delayed, a Britania flight to Glasgow was delayed by three hours, and four were diverted to airports on the mainland. Two domestic flights were forced to land in Barcelona, a third in Valencia while British Midland's Manchester to Palma flight was also diverted to Barcelona's Prat airport. Most of the affected flights were domestic, either from the mainland or inter-island.
The worst hit was a flight from Ibiza to Palma. Passengers had to sit out a five hour delay, although airline spokespeople said that everything possible had been done to reduced delays and disruptions to a minimum. Minorca was also hit by the dense fog which led to the cancellation of six flights, leaving 300 passengers stranded until seats were found on flights with other airlines. However, late yesterday afternoon, sources at Minorca air traffic control tower said that conditions were still very damp and that the dense fog was starting to return, posing a threat to flights again. The Balearic Port Authority decided to close Palma harbour at 10am yesterday as visibility was reduced to near zero. However, the 90 minute closure of the port did not cause any cancellations or delays to shipping. On Sunday, all three of the Balearic airports suffered flight chaos, in particular during the afternoon.
Palma air traffic control diverted a number of flights to Minorca, where conditions were slightly better, although thick fog in Madrid added to Palma airport's woes with a number of flights cancelled including one evening flight which led to the airline having to house the passengers in a Madrid hotel. Palma airport returned to normal at around 6.30pm, when the fog lifted and moved to Minorca where it caused similar problems.


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