Weather chaos continues to hit UK airports

Snow and freezing temperatures continued to ground flights to and from Britain on Tuesday, with travellers hoping to get away for Christmas likely to suffer delays and cancellations for several more days.

British Airways said it expected to make a “significant number of cancellations” to its short-haul services from London’s Heathrow airport, which will again operate with just one of its two runways on Tuesday.

“Severe weather continues to cause significant disruption to our operation and will do so in the run up to Christmas,” the airline said in a statement on Tuesday. “Currently Heathrow has only one of its two runways operational and many areas of the airfield remain unusable, including areas around parked aircraft.”

Ferrovial-owned BAA, which operates Heathrow, said the airport’s south runway would remain closed on Tuesday, as on Monday, meaning the airport would be operating at significantly reduced capacity.

Thousands of passengers have been stranded at Heathrow, the world’s busiest international airport, for days as flights have been delayed and cancelled.


Arctic conditions have caused major disruption to operations since Saturday, with BA expecting the travel chaos to continue. The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for most of the UK for the remainder of the week.

BAA said 27 flights had arrived at Heathrow and 10 had departed by 7.45am GMT on Tuesday — more than at the same point on Monday.

“BAA has confirmed a limited schedule of flights to and from the airport, at least until 6am on Wednesday 22 December,” BA said. “We have adjusted our schedule to fit with the capacity of the airport for both flight departures and arrivals.”

Night flights
The British government on Monday said it had relaxed regulations on night flights at Heathrow, allowing for arrivals until 1am GMT each day until Christmas.

The harsh winter weather has grounded flights across northern Europe for days.

Eurocontrol, the umbrella group for air-traffic control across 38 countries, said more than 22 000 flights across Europe were cancelled on Monday but that more services would likely operate on Tuesday.

London’s Gatwick Airport reopened at 6am GMT after closing overnight.

“We expect to operate the vast majority of our flights into and out of London Gatwick and London City, although some flights may be subject to delays,” BA added.

Analysts believe the freezing conditions are hitting BA’s profit by about £10-million a day.

‘Sowly returning to normal’
Meanwhile, South African Airways (SAA) plans to operate three flights out of South Africa on Tuesday after getting the go-ahead from Heathrow.

“Which means we are slowly returning back to normal,” said SAA spokesperson Fani Zulu.

Flights SA234 and SA236 out of OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and SA220 out of Cape Town were scheduled to depart on Tuesday but the airline urged passengers to first confirm they were indeed booked on the flight before going to the airport.

“It’s been three days now where we had irregular operations and there might be a long waiting period before you can get confirmation.”

He said it would be a little slow clearing the backlog of the last few days, but said it was good news they could at least operate.

However, SAA’s flights out of Heathrow would be a “bit of a challenge” because one of their planes waiting at Heathrow was grounded for repairs as the freezing weather led to water in the pipes freezing and water pipes bursting.

The flight that did not leave on Monday night, was expected to leave on Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday night SAA can only operate one plane out of London, so the backlog there will remain.

The airline was hoping it would be back to normal on Wednesday.

In Germany, the airport at Frankfort was expected to reopen at noon, and SAA hoped to be able to move a plane that had been diverted to Munich, to Frankfort. — Reuters, Sapa

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Covid-19 vaccines offer hope as world leaders plan for future

Hopes over Covid-19 vaccines have given a boost to virus-weary citizens across the globe, but the disease remains rampant and world leaders are urging people to be patient

Regulate vaping and e-cigarettes fairly

If South Africa is prepared to draw on international harm reduction best practice, it could generate good legislation to regulate vaping and e-cigarettes cleverly

SA justice delays extradition of paedophile to UK

Efforts to bring Lee Nigel Tucker to justice have spanned 16 years and his alleged victims have waited for 30 years

Wheeling and dealing for a Covid-19 vaccine

A Covid-19 jab could cost hundreds of rands. Or not. It’s anyone’s guess. Could another pandemic almost a century ago hold clues for handling the coronavirus today?

Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan

The aid worker allegedly called his security guard a ‘slave’

The cost of Covid: 25 years of progress, halted

Development has been set back by two decades, says the Gates Foundation Goalkeepers report
Advertising

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

More top stories

Shabnim Ismail bowls her way into the record books Down...

The night before Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) final, fiery South African fast bowler Shabnim Ismail lay awake pondering how...

Hawks make arrest in matric maths paper leak

Themba Daniel Shikwambana, who works at a printing company, was granted bail and is due to return to court in January

Andile Lungisa: Early parole for the house of truth

Disgraced Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa calls for a change of leadership in the ANC immediately after being released on parole

War of words at Zondo commission: ‘Grow up Mr Gordhan,...

The cross-examination of the public enterprises minister by Tom Moyane’s lawyers at the state capture inquiry went on well into overtime on Monday evening
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…