London

Heathrow Airport: Snow causes more flight delays

  • 20 January 2013
  • From the section London
Stranded passenger at Heathrow
More snow is likely to mean further delays for passengers

Passengers at Heathrow Airport have faced further delays with at least 300 flights, more than a fifth, cancelled as more snow fell in London.

The disruption is set to continue into Monday as the west London airport said it would reduce its capacity by 10%, about 130 fewer flights.

Many passengers complained about a lack of information from the authorities.

All flights from London City Airport were suspended after the airport closed its runway on Sunday morning.

Space between aircraft

The airport had said earlier it was clearing the runway, but attempts to operate flights were abandoned.

It said it expected to resume a normal service on Monday and advised passengers to contact their airlines.

Between 2-6cm of snow was forecast for Sunday - meaning poor visibility and reducing capacity, Heathrow Airport said.

Speaking about Monday's cancellations, an airport spokesman said: "It is possible that weather conditions at other European airports will increase the number of cancellations.

"When there is low visibility, more space has to be left between aircraft.

"Because Heathrow operates at almost full capacity, there is simply no room to reschedule the delayed flights."

BA said it had to cancel 20% of its scheduled flights on Sunday to "keep the airport running smoothly".

'Adjust plans'

Terminal 5 was operating "as normal" with teams on standby to clear snow.

Since Friday more than 500 flights have been cancelled from Heathrow Airport - 111 on Saturday and about 400 on Friday.

The cancellations led to hundreds of passengers spending Friday night in the airport.

A BA flight being de-iced at Heathrow
BA cancelled 101 flights on Saturday

Many also complained about being kept on board aircraft for several hours awaiting take-off and then being unable to collect their luggage.

Air France, Aer Lingus, Lufthansa and TAP Portugal flights were affected.

Snow began falling in London at about 09:00 GMT on Sunday.

The airport said low visibility had led to it reducing its capacity to avoid further disruption.

The west London airport came under severe criticism in the winter of 2010 over its failure to cope with snow after it was shut for days.

Following that the airport spent £36m on extra snow clearing vehicles, including 10 runway sweepers, 26 tractor ploughs and 19 specialist de-icing vehicles, and increased staffing to deal with extreme winter conditions.

Trains delayed

But this time the situation is different, said a spokeswoman. "The runways are open and everything is fine at the moment because passengers have had more time to check flights with their airline," she said.

"In 2010, the airport was almost completely closed for several days. This is not the same at all.

"We took a lot of learning from 2010 and invested heavily."

BA has already apologised to customers, adding it was doing everything it could to help those whose flights have been disrupted by the weather.

On the trains, signal problems at Ealing Broadway has resulted in delays of up to 45 minutes on the First Great Western, Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect.

There are delays of 30 minutes on First capital Connect and of 15 minutes on Southeastern trains.

On Sunday morning four Eurostar trains were cancelled and there are delays of about half-an-hour on all trains.

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