The situation at London airports is slowly limping back to normal. A higher number of flights are being operated than before and demands are being raised for conducting a probe into BAA’s response to the situation.
The adverse weather conditions that led to massive snowfalls and brought flights to and from the UK to a grinding halt are showing some signs of improvement. This has come as a boon for the hundreds of air ticket holders stranded in the different airport terminals of the country. According to media reports, different airports and other transport hubs took advantage of the improved weather conditions to clear up some of the huge backlog of passengers that had added up over the past week. Operations are normal at Manchester, Stansted, Luton and London City airports.
The Situation at London Heathrow Airport
On Tuesday, Heathrow Airport’s second runway became functional and some flights were operated. According to Internet sources, the airport operated about a third of its schedule on Tuesday and there are hopes of resuming full operations by Thursday. Heathrow, along with other airports, has advised passengers to come to the airport only if their airlines confirm their flights. The Airport serves a number of international and regional carriers including full service as well as low cost airlines popular for cheap flights and has been one of the worst hit in the whole of Europe.
Today, there was a further improvement in the scenario with the BAA announcing that London Heathrow is now fully functional and would be operating its full schedule. This has also resulted in the rescheduling of quite a few flights that had to be diverted earlier due to the excessive snowfall. For instance, the Etihad flights EY017 and EY018, which had been diverted to Manchester, will now fly from Heathrow as originally planned. Etihad has also announced that passengers who had to arrange travel plans to Manchester will get a refund of reasonable expenditure subject to airline’s conditions.
Gatwick Airport also opened on Tuesday after the nightlong effort by some 150 workers to clear the runway of snow and ice. However, with heavy snowfall inundating many parts of Northern Europe, passengers have to experience knock-on delays.
According to latest reports, the runways at Edinburgh and Glasgow have been cleared up but passengers should be prepared for cancellations and other delays. Similarly, Aberdeen is also experiencing its share of delays.
Snow puts British Airways in Trouble
British Airways is one of the airlines to be the hardest hit by the snow. As the situation slowly eases off, the airline has started to show signs of recovery. The airline has announced that their schedules for today, 22nd December have been confirmed. The airline’s schedules for 23rd and 24th December are being updated and the same will be confirmed once finalised. The news comes as a relief for all those passengers who had booked their tickets well in advance to net cheap flights with the airline for Christmas holidays.
However, the passengers have been warned of long delays and flights are still being cancelled. Everyday, British Airways operates some 555 flights in and out of Heathrow airport and since Saturday, the figure has dwindled down to one third of its full capacity.
Analysts speculate that everyday, British Airways is suffering losses worth £8m to £10m. On Saturday, all flight were ceased, which spelt as a loss of about 450 services, while on Sunday, just some 20 to 30 flights were flown.
Impact upon British Airports Authority (BAA)
BAA has drawn a lot of flak from various quarters for its shoddy handling of the snowfall at London Heathrow Airport. Questions have been raised on as to why ample investments were not made beforehand on snow fighting measures. There have been demands for conducting an enquiry into BAA’s response to the situation. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has backed these demands. Sections of the media quoted the BAA chief executive, Mr Colin Matthews as saying, ‘I have decided to give up my bonus for the current year. My focus is on getting people moving and rebuilding confidence in Heathrow’.