Published on : Monday, December 11, 2017
Severe snow fall has caused major travel chaos for air passengers at Heathrow as most of the flights were diverted, delayed and cancelled. The disruption at Britain’s main airport was blamed on planes having to be de-iced before take-off, resulting in a lack of ‘parking space’ for incoming flights.
Departures from Europe’s busiest airport began to go wrong before dawn on Sunday. Overnight torrential rain hampered the de-icing process. And as queues developed while sleet and snow fell, aircraft that had already been de-iced needed to be treated again as ice began to build up on their wings while they waited for clearance to depart. The deicing process is believed to have affected both outgoing and incoming flights, with planes not able to land because other aircraft were still in the stands.
About 20 proactive cancellations were made by British Airways operations staff, to create “firebreaks” in the schedule in a bid to avoid further cancellations.
At the west London airport, passengers complained of being trapped on a British Airways plane on the ground for more than four hours with no information from the airline.
A spokesman for Heathrow airport said it remained open on Sunday, but added: “However we regret that weather across the UK is resulting in some passengers experiencing disruption to their travel arrangements.” Airlines are responsible for ensuring their flights are fully de-iced before they are operated and this is resulting in some delays and cancellations.
“The safety and comfort of our passengers is always our first priority and we are working closely with our airlines to ensure affected passengers are looked after.
“Passengers should continue to check the status of their flight with their airline before coming to the airport.
“We apologise to those affected by today’s weather.”
Similar warning of flight delays and cancellations were issued by Luton Airport as well. The passengers were advised to contact their airlines directly before flying and leave extra time to reach the airport.
Heavy snowfall closed the runway at Birmingham Airport too and the flights were temporarily suspended.