Heavy snow has caused massive flights delays and cancellations as BAA seems incompetent of handling the crisis. Millions of travellers are still stranded at the airports with their Christmas holiday travel plans completely ruined.
Christmas holidays for a number of passengers are apparently ‘snowed’ as authorities continue to ground planes with London Heathrow being the worst-affected airport.The ongoing chaos at Heathrow airport, which started on Saturday and resulted in the cancellation of all of airport’s incoming flights on Sunday, continues even today with thousands of holidaymakers being stranded.Reportedly nearly one million passengers were due to pass through the airport this past week. With forecast of further bad conditions in the coming days, it is only going to get more problematic for travellers.
Travellers Left Stranded
The development has been really unfortunate for travellers who bought their tickets and were looking forward to spend some holiday time with their families. Some of passengers who landed up with cheap tickets on flights were extremely dejected as this time of the year is generally regarded as the busiest and costliest.
With more and more flights being cancelled, London Heathrow has been flooded with stranded passengers and fury towards BAA – operator of London Heathrow – augmented as Christmas travel plans of thousands was busted.
Airport officials warned that it could take as long as next week before the backlog of flights can be cleared and normal operations can resume.
Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond acknowledged the public indignation and promised an inquiry into the matter and the way passengers were treated at the airport.
He told BBC Breakfast yesterday: “Once we have got through the problem, once we have got things moving again, then we will have to have that discussion and find out exactly what went wrong and, most importantly, what went wrong in handling passengers who were stranded.
“I think whilst people are obviously deeply upset about the inconvenience, particularly at this time of year, of having their travel plans disrupted, most of what I am hearing is a sense of outrage about the way they were then treated when they were stranded at Heathrow airport.”
Regarding the complaints about lack of information for passengers, BAA spokesman Andrew Teacher admitted there had been issues.
“There have been problems and we are extremely sorry for those, and that is something we will obviously have to look at, along with airlines, about how we communicate. The issue we have at Heathrow is that while there are 77,000 people working there, they are not all employed by BAA, so there is a limited degree to which we can control things,” BAA spokesman was quoted by online resources.
“Obviously we are not trying to shun responsibility, we are trying to look at what we are doing and focus on the situation now,” he further added.
“We are obviously not going to sit here and claim that it has gone well because it has been a very troubling time for many, and we are extremely sorry for the disruption to people’s journeys.”
Flights Grounded in the UK
British Airways, the national carrier of the United Kingdom, expects “significant number of cancellations” from London’s Heathrow airport.
“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 released on Tuesday.
On Monday BA cancelled 70 of 130 departures at Heathrow, and 89 of its 133 arrivals.
“BAA has confirmed a limited schedule of flights to and from the airport, at least until 06.00 on Wednesday 22 December,” British Airways said. “We have adjusted our schedule to fit with the capacity of the airport for both flight departures and arrivals.”
British Airways admitted that the situation is indeed difficult. “Most of our aircraft are still frozen. With incredibly low temperatures at Heathrow, it is difficult to get anything moving,” BA said in a statement issued on Monday.
British Midland International (BMI) has been instructed to reduce its operations considerably at Heathrow and the airline has cancelled a number of flights for today.
The low cost airline, Ryanair which is the biggest operator at Stansted Airport, England and is also a popular choice of travellers for cheap flight tickets, was among those to ground its flights at the airport on Saturday.
Other Airport Updates
Several delays and cancellations were also reported from Stansted, Luton, Exeter, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton, and Cardiff and airports, while the Aberdeen Airport was reported to close twice yesterday.
At London Gatwick, operations were said to be “returning to normal”, before heavy snow grounded planes until 6am on Tuesday.
London Heathrow Airport has announced that it would continue to operate only 30% of flights until 0600 GMT on Wednesday in view of the ongoing conditions.
Stansted Airport was also forced to cancel a number of its flights until Sunday morning. The Airport has been reported to be operating normally and is being used to ease off traffic at Heathrow.
Frankfurt Airport, which serves as Germany’s key hub for airlines had to cancel almost 300 flights as per the sources.