Heathrow cancels 100 flights on second day of snow chaos - and one in five will be cancelled tomorrow

 

One in five flights to and from Heathrow is to be cancelled tomorrow in a bid to avoid the chaotic scenes when snow disrupted schedules at Europe’s busiest airport.

Snow and reduced visibility is predicted for tomorrow. The airport owner and the airlines have agreed to reduce the level of operations in order to avoid the short-notice cancellations that cause massive problems for passengers and airlines.

Cancelling 20 per cent of aircraft movements creates “firebreaks” that give the airport far more resilience in the event of disruption. Figures released this week showed that Heathrow works on 98.2 per cent of capacity – a far higher proportion than any other airport.

The plan is designed to give passengers more certainty about their travel plans, so that they can turn up at the airport with reasonable confidence if their flight is set to operate, or rebook on another departure if they cannot travel on their intended service.

Heathrow’s chief operating officer, Normand Boivin, said: “Cancelling flights in advance of disruptive weather is a procedure used increasingly around the world, as it means the greatest number of passengers can fly with the minimum amount of disruption.”

By lunchtime today the mood at Britain’s premier transport hub, Heathrow Terminal 5, had subsided from fury and frustration to glum resignation. Overnight the British Airways terminal had resembled a refugee camp, with stranded passengers sleeping where they could on mats provided by the airline. And once again, images of the shambles when Europe’s busiest airport meets bad weather were beamed around the world.

An estimated 50,000 passengers were booked on the 400 flights cancelled yesterday – the majority of them BA departures. Most of the services that were axed were short-haul. But as problems with de-icing and a reduced “flow rate” built up, many intercontinental flights were cancelled – after the passengers had sat on board the planes for several hours waiting in vain for a departure slot.

Travellers bound for the US, Argentina, Hong Kong and South Africa complained that they were unable to retrieve their baggage, and that BA failed to provide hotel beds.

Although BA was legally obliged to provide accommodation for the tens of thousands of stranded passengers, the airline’s staff could not find enough hotel rooms in the Heathrow area.

From lunchtime onwards, the vast majority of the airline’s flights from Heathrow were cancelled - including dozens of long-haul flights. Many arrivals in the morning won’t show up, and in the first couple of hours a dozen outbound flights are axed.

The wintry weather, or at least Britain’s failure to deal with it, represents a loss of several million pounds to BA – and the travel plans of tens of thousands of passengers put on hold, with many of them stranded thousands of miles from home.

Even if Heathrow is back to normal at the weekend – which looks unlikely – it will take until Monday morning before everyone is back on track.

Other airlines were barely affected. Of 104 cancellations predicted for today, all but four were on BA.

Aer Lingus, Air France and Lufthansa each cancelled a single departure because of the effects of bad weather, while Qatar Airways dropped the daily service to Doha that was due to be operated by a Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” – the aircraft type currently grounded after safety concerns.

BA’s first two departures to Geneva, aimed squarely at upmarket skiers, were cancelled, along with dozens domestic and European departures. Many long-haul arrivals were cancelled because the outbound flight was grounded on Friday.

For every planeload of unhappy passengers stranded at Heathrow, there was an equal and opposite group of upset passengers at the other end, waiting for news on when they might be able to fly to London. Many of those lucky enough to reach the capital were dismayed to find that the Tube link was not operational, because of engineering work on the Piccadilly Line west of Hammersmith.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on