Two For One
Of the CIS countries, Moldova probably has one of the largest communities living in Ireland and hence travel between the two countries has never been at a higher level before now. With several flights weekly from the Moldovan capital, Chisinau to Dublin and from cities such as Iasi, Bacau, Ciuj-Napoca and Bucharest in neighbouring Romania, the flow of people calling Ireland their new home has never been greater.
Image by Varani Ennio
Air Moldova is a regular visitor to Dublin Airport but equally prominent is new-comer FlyOne. Launching operations in June 2016, the Chisinau based airline has four A320’s and one A319 in the current fleet. The newest fleet-member ER-00007, a ten year old A320-232, has been flying with FlyOne just one month and was serving the scheduled Dublin route last week arriving into the Irish capital at approximately 22:00, departing shortly after at 23:00
However, last Thursdays service experienced a slight interruption to proceedings with passengers receiving two landings for the price of one. ER-00007 had already had a busy days flying, with a return visit to Antalya from Chisinau early that morning, followed by a flight to and from Verona before setting off for Dublin at 21:03.
The flight across Europe linking the extremities of the continent taking usually 3hrs 30mins was uneventful for the most-part. Unknown to the passengers, Dublin Airport was becoming shrouded in thick fog as the night progressed. Climatic conditions were obviously just right for heavy fog to build up on an August summer night.
As visibility dis-improved, the flight crew would have been made aware of the situation by ATC as they approached and made the decision to divert to Shannon Airport on the opposite side of Ireland. For those waiting at Dublin to meet incoming family and friends, it was going to be a long night.
Having travelled at altitude 34,000ft for the trans European flight, 5F711 began its decent passing Dublin and continued to lose height as it crossed the country south westerly. In recent times, Shannon Airport ATC have not provided an after-hours service but on the night in question its possible arrangements had been put in place to accept diverted traffic from Dublin. ER-0007 touched down on RW24 at 22:50
The flight crew would have experienced an increased workload, approaching an unfamiliar airport in darkness. While it may have been the crews first time at Shannon Airport, it wasn’t a first for the aircraft. This A320 landed at Shannon ten months previous, on 4th of November 2020 as OE-IEY, registered to Irish leasing company Avolon. It remained on the ground until its ferry-flight to FlyOne in Chisinau as ER-00007 on 14th of July this year, wearing its new livery. Having left Shannon just a month before, ER-00007 wasn’t expected back so soon.
Having moved the passengers inside the terminal at Shannon, a waiting game began with little to do in the middle of the night other than sit quietly with one’s thoughts. As the crew remained in contact with Dublin ATC, reports of an improvement in conditions were received and with passengers re-boarded, the A320 departed an eerily quiet Shannon at 03:59 for the short hop to Dublin. Just 27 mins later, ER-00007 was on the ground once again, this time Dublin.
With out-bound passengers in their seats, the return flight to Moldova lifted off from Dublin at 06:04, a little behind time, actually about 7 hours late but occasional natural phenomena can effect air travel. The silver lining from this diversion, if there’s any to be found, may well be that FlyOne or indeed Air Moldova, Blue Air or HiSky, sees an opportunity to perform a service to the West of Ireland where so many ‘new-comers’ have made their homes. When opportunity knocks, grasp it…………
Image by Varani Ennio