Snow Hits Heathrow Airport, Half Of All Flights Cancelled

Heathrow

First Posted: 5/02/2012 15:11 Updated: 5/02/2012 20:03   PA

Half of all flights have been axed at Britain's busiest airport - hours after it stopped snowing.

More planes were grounded on Sunday at London's Heathrow airport following yesterday's adverse weather and the airport's decision to axe 30% of its flights.

The decision came as wintry showers ceased across the country and forecasters predicted dry conditions and a partial thaw.

A spokesman for Heathrow said the move was designed to minimise disruption and in anticipation of possible freezing fog.

While the runways, taxiways and stands have been cleared of snow, only 50% of the 1,300 scheduled flights are now going ahead.

But the airport insisted its "snow plan" had worked "far better" than in previous years.

A spokesman said the airport - which operates at 99.2% capacity - was "getting back to normal" as it worked to clear the backlog of flights.

"We took the decision with airlines and air traffic control yesterday to reduce the flight schedule in advance," the spokesman said.

"By cancelling flights in advance airlines have been able to rebook some people on to flights that are departing, and passengers have had better quality information about whether they can fly or not."

Extra staff were being drafted into terminals to help passengers rebook flights.

While there is no further snowfall expected today, freezing fog was forecast from 6pm, the airport said.

Heathrow's usual flight schedule is due to operate tomorrow but passengers were warned there may still be cancellations because of today's disruption, with aircraft and crew needing to be repositioned.

Travellers were advised to check the status of their flights ahead of departure.

But there were scenes of confusion and frustration at Heathrow Airport as passengers struggled to make plans after half of today's flights were cancelled.

Teams of staff were on hand to try to help travellers make new flight arrangements and find hotels but the situation was described as "unbelievable".

But passengers said they did not understand why so little snow had caused such problems.

Philippa Britton, who lives in Kendal, Cumbria, was trying to fly back to Manchester.

She said: "We arrived back from Hong Kong and are now trying to move on with the rest of the journey.

"I think we are on a flight at 9pm tonight but we'll see.

"On the flight into London lots of people were astonished that so many flights had been cancelled.

"It's unbelievable. The runways seemed clear and they have cancelled the flights. Our midnight flight from Hong Kong was cancelled - it has been chaotic.

"And now one of our bags has been lost."

Firs Alam was supposed to fly to Tokyo at 10.00pm yesterday until his plane was grounded.

On Sunday he said he was having a "disgusting time", was incurring costs because of the decision to cancel and was preparing to spend the night sleeping on a bench in the airport.

"I am missing my parents and my family members," he said.

"I am having a disgusting time in here. They have offered vouchers but I won't get them. I am due to fly at 8am tomorrow but I was supposed to fly at 10 last night."

Asked what he thought of the decision to cancel 50% of flights he said: "It's bad, of course."

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Filed by Lucy Sherriff  |