Published on 19 Jan 2013 Sections ,

Snow turns Heathrow into a ‘refugee camp’

Heathrow airport cancels 100 flights amid the weather disruption as Channel 4 News weather presenter Liam Dutton warns there is more snow to come.

A spokeswoman for Heathrow said that although weather conditions have improved, about 100 flights have had to be cancelled in a “recovery” from yesterday – 67 of which are departures.

“In terms of how today is going so far, the weather conditions are much better today. The runways are open. We do have about 100 cancellations at the moment, but that’s really just recovery from yesterday.

“Two-thirds of that 100 – 67 of the cancellations – are departures, and the remainder are arrival cancellations.

“At the moment the airport is operating as usual. We have the same number of aircraft using the runways as we normally would,” the spokeswoman said.

However, she warned that passengers should check the status of their flight before travelling to the airport.

“There is a chance of further snow tomorrow, with a potential accumulation of between 2cm and 5cm from 11am, and we will be talking to airlines today about tomorrow’s schedule.

“We supported British Airways yesterday evening by assisting passengers in the terminals with refreshments and blankets. We also offered help with hotel bookings and ticket re-booking.

Forecast: Cold weather to stay
Further light snow flurries are likely on Saturday, but most places will stay dry with little thawing of lying snow as temperatures struggle to get much above 0C.However, more snow is expected for central and eastern parts of England on Sunday, with 2-5cm, locally more, possible.
Another concern for many this weekend will be ice, where snow thaws a little during the daytime, then refreezes at night as temperatures dip below freezing again. Looking ahead to next week, the cold weather is here to stay, with the risk of more sleet and snow at times as milder air tries to move in from the Atlantic.
You can get the latest five day forecast on the Channel 4 Weather website and I'll be tweeting updates on Twitter - @liamdutton

BA suffers ‘knock-on’ disruption

British Airways had to cancel “in the region of 30” flights today due to what it says is “knock-on disruption from yesterday”.

A spokesman for BA said: “We have unfortunately had to make a number of cancellations today, mainly due to knock-on disruption from yesterday, so we’ve got a number of aircraft out of position and it’s quite a complex operation to put that back together, so that’s what we’re working on at the moment.”

Commenting on the number of flights affected, he added: “It’s in the region of 30. Those are predominantly short-haul flights to domestic and European locations.”

BA is now offering customers who no longer wish to travel this weekend the chance to rebook their flight for a later date.

It is also providing refunds and overnight accommodation to those who could not fly, or letters for them to make a claim at a later date.

Meanwhile, Gatwick Airport is operating as normal today, with no knock-on from yesterday’s bad weather, a spokeswoman said.
No major cancellations are expected, and 505 flights are scheduled for the day.

“We are advising passengers to check their plans before they travel, and urge people who are travelling this weekend to be aware that there could be disruptions at airports across Europe or in other parts of the UK,” said the spokeswoman.

Stansted Airport announced via its Twitter feed: “Overnight snow clearance means flights operating as normal this morning @STN–Airport. Passengers can check flight status on airline website.”

Meanwhile, Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent, said Heathrow looked like “a refugee camp”, with people sleeping on the floor.

Mr Calder said people were angry at the lack of information and the short notice of flights being cancelled.

People were stuck on planes “for many hours” last night, he said, as they waited to take off because the rate at which planes departed was dramatically cut.

There are delays of up to 20 hours on flights arriving from Europe, he added.


“We are sorry that passengers suffered disruption yesterday. We have additional staff on the airport and we’re doing everything we can to help the airlines recover their schedule,” the spokeswoman for Heathrow said.

Husband and wife David and Janet Brindle, from Cumbria, branded BA’s customer service and treatment of passengers caught up in the chaos as “appalling” and said “people were close to tears”.

The couple were due to set off on the holiday of a lifetime – five weeks in New Zealand – yesterday morning, but are still at Heathrow after missing their Air New Zealand flight.

Nobody knew what they were doing. They couldn’t tell us anything. They were quite rude, actually. Janet Brindle, from Cumbria

They sat on a BA plane at Manchester Airport from 9am until 3pm yesterday and Mrs Brindle said they were given very little information.

“They got us off the plane but our bags weren’t off. Not a single person came to tell us what was happening.

“Most people missed their connecting long-haul flights from Heathrow. We were advised to make our own way to Heathrow so that’s what we did,” she said.

The couple, who stayed in a hotel near Heathrow last night, said there were “a lot of angry people” at Manchester Airport yesterday due to the disruption, and said they would not be flying with BA again.

“Nobody knew what they were doing. They couldn’t tell us anything. They were quite rude, actually,” Mrs Brindle said.

Her husband added: “They didn’t seem to have a risk-management plan in place. There was no contingency plan.”

The couple also said they believed BA was being “economical with the truth” throughout their ordeal.

“There was just chaos,” Mr Brindle said.

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