Simon Calder: Nowhere else but London would a temporary runway closure lead to 200 flights being cancelled
The capitals five airports collectively handle far more passengers than any other city, including New York, Paris and Tokyo. But what no-one envies is the constriction at Heathrow
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Friday 24 May 2013
Tomorrow morning, an estimated 25,000 prospective airline passengers are waking up not where they want to be.
Seventy-five of them were expecting to be in Norway, having flown there on British Airways’ morning departure from Heathrow this morning. At around the time they should have been served their first cup of coffee over the North Sea, they were instead sliding down emergency chutes on one of the world’s busiest runways – and, shortly afterwards, giving thanks for the professionalism of the pilots, cabin crew and air-traffic controllers. A collective obsession with aviation safety has kept the skies safe for passengers on British jets since the 1980s – an extraordinary record, and the envy of the world.
The world is also jealous of the status of London as the global hub of aviation: the capital’s five (or six, depending on whether you count Southend) airports collectively handle far more passengers than any other city, including New York, Paris and Tokyo. But what no-one envies is the constriction at Heathrow.
A full-blown emergency will impact any major airport, but nowhere else would a temporary runway closure lead to the cancellation of 200 flights. As grounded passengers try to salvage something from the wreckage of their travel plans, they may wonder at the strange coincidence of incredibly safe skies and implausibly inadequate infrastructure in a busy corner of north-west Europe.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 3 The Grace Dent Christmas Questionnaire
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
TripAdvisor reveals the top places to visit in 2015
Travelling by train, boat and plane in 2015: what's in store from ferries to winter sports services
Chic new hotels in 2015: From Britain's first football-themed property to a Facebook millionaire's debut desert resort
Yakutsk: Journey to the coldest city on earth
Top 10 travel destinations for 2015: From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...
£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...
£27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...