Heathrow's bad weather plan failed just before Christmas due to the wrong amount of snow, the airport's head told MPs yesterday.

Heathrow had planned for 6cm (2.4in) of snow "but got far more than that," Colin Matthews, chief executive of airport operator BAA, told the House of Commons Transport Committee. He went on: "In retrospect we should have had a plan for more snow than 6cm." Mr Matthews apologised for the disruption to passengers and airlines which saw Heathrow operations come to almost a complete halt.

He said BAA did "all we possibly could" for passengers but the bad weather "totally overwhelmed the ability of resources at Heathrow to cope with passengers".

The committee also heard from representatives of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, who told MPs of the lack of communication between BAA and airlines during the disruption. Mr Matthews said BAA needed to "dramatically improve" its ability to communicate.