Minister for Disabled People Maria Eagle had her wings clipped when she tried jetting into the North-East yesterday.

Ms Eagle, who was scheduled for three visits in the region, set off from London's Heathrow Airport early yesterday, but heavy blizzards prevented her landing at Newcastle Airport.

Airport controllers informed the pilot that the airport was snowbound and it was too dangerous to touch down.

Instead, he was told to divert 170 miles to Manchester, where the plane could refuel.

But the plan changed again en route, when the pilot was told that Teesside Airport was open - so the plane changed course once more, and finally landed at Teesside at 1.30pm.

Ms Eagle was rushed up the North-East by car, but had already missed her first two visits.

The first was at a telecom centre in Sunderland, which employs dedicated staff to handle calls from disabled people, and the second was a small project in Hendon, Sunderland, called People Into Employment.

She managed to keep her third and final appointment - a performance by disabled artists from the Lawnmower Theatre Group, on Newcastle's Quayside.

A spokeswoman for Ms Eagle said: "I suppose it is a case of the Eagle not landing, but this has obviously disappointed people at the first two venues.

"The minister sincerely regrets she was unable to make the first two appointments and hopes to reschedule them for a later date."