Christmas travellers given glimmer of hope

Christmas travel misery began to ease today - a day late for Heathrow Airport's boss who decided to sacrifice his 2010 bonus.

As thousands of exhausted passengers finally began to move at the airport, under-fire Colin Matthews announced he would forgo his annual bonus.



Last year he took home £944,000 in salary and bonuses.



Mr Matthews, BAA's chief executive, said: "I have decided to give up my bonus for the current year. My focus is on keeping people moving and rebuilding confidence in Heathrow."



BAA would not reveal how much his bonus was.



Heathrow, the world's largest international airport, has made headlines for days as massive amounts of flights were cancelled because of the snow and ice and passengers were left stranded.



Critics slammed Heathrow as a third-world airport and blasted the management's inability to cope with the big freeze.



Earlier, Mick Rix, the GMB union's national officer for the aviation industry, said paying him "a huge bonus" would be "an absolute slap in the face to the thousands of people who have been stranded at Heathrow for the past three days".



Mayor of London Boris Johnson said BAA had "very serious lessons" to learn from the chaos.



And BMI chief executive Wolfgang Prock-Schauer claimed the airport "did not have enough de-icing fluid" - something a Heathrow Airport spokesman tonight strenuously denied.



"It is categorically untrue that we have either run out of de-icer, failed to order enough de-icer or accepted de-icer supplies from the government," the spokesman said.



Britain's transport network was largely paralysed this week by heavy snowfall and freezing conditions.



But today, travellers were given a glimmer of hope as airports began to operate close to capacity and, according to Network Rail, 70% of trains ran on time.



After reopening its second runway yesterday, Heathrow hoped to fulfil two-thirds of its business but stressed passengers should not expect an immediate return to normality.



The news was largely echoed around the UK with the vast majority of regional airports saying business was almost back to normal.



Only nine flights out of 617 at Gatwick were cancelled today.



All airports continued to tell customers to check with their airline if their flight was operating.



And after cancelling more than 2,000 flights, British Airways said it hoped tomorrow and Christmas Eve would see it operate a full long-haul departure schedule from Heathrow. It will also operate a normal schedule at Gatwick and London City airports.



Sean Tipton, of the Association of British Travel Agents, said: "The travel industry is very pleased that both Heathrow and Gatwick are returning to normal service.



"However, there will still be some delays and cancellations due to the many aircraft being out of position.



"Many package holidaymakers whose flights were cancelled over the weekend will now be jetting off on holiday due to their flights being rescheduled."



After the Eurostar was crippled yesterday, a company spokesman today said it was running 90% of its service.



"There is virtually no queue in the station and we are carrying people to their final destination," he said.



The travel improvement coincided with weather forecasters predicting relatively mild weather in the run up to Christmas Day.



Tonight, the majority of the UK should stay dry but cold with slight snow showers in the Midlands, eastern Wales and parts of East Anglia.



The delayed Christmas getaway heaped work on road rescue groups who reported another busy day today, with an expected 21,000 call-outs by the end of the day.



Saying they were dealing with more than twice their normal amount of call-outs, Darron Burness, head of special operations, said: "Today is even busier than yesterday with more long-distance getaway traffic plus abnormally high levels of traffic to retail outlets. We expect this to build to a peak tomorrow with traffic building from lunchtime with an extended evening rush-hour."



Red Cross is urging people to look out for their elderly and vulnerable neighbours.



In Oxford, police today found the body of a woman and her dog in an ice-covered river.



The identity of the woman has not been confirmed yet but is believed to be Ann Powles, 74. She went missing on Monday. The body was recovered from the River Cherwell, near the Sunnymead Recreation Ground.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam