Fog has wrecked the travel plans of thousands of airline passengers to and from London’s airports.
On the busiest day of the week for air travel, London City Airport, in Docklands, was worst affected. Until 9.53am, no flights had landed and at least a dozen arrivals had been cancelled.
An inbound Alitalia flight from Milan diverted to Manchester, 160 miles away.
Luxair flights were diverted to Southend and Luton, while a Flybe service from Belfast City went to Birmingham.
KLM and Lufthansa flights from Amsterdam and Frankfurt respectively turned around in mid-air and returned to their departure airports.
A Flybe flight from Dusseldorf was held for about 20 minutes off the coast of Essex and then returned to the German city. Passengers spent almost three hours on a flight to nowhere.
Eight flights – seven on British Airways, one on Alitalia – managed to take off, but at least 16 departures were cancelled. Multiple flights to Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt and Luxembourg were affected.
Many other flights to and from London City were delayed.
At Gatwick, at least 26 flights were cancelled. The biggest airline at the Sussex airport, easyJet, pro-actively grounded 10 of Friday's flights on Thursday afternoon because of the forecast poor weather.
Passengers from Barcelona, Geneva, Amsterdam, Belfast and Toulouse were told a day ahead: “The reason we have to cancel your flight is due to expected poor weather condition in London Gatwick.”
On the day, a further six flights were cancelled: round trips from Gatwick to Basel, Copenhagen and Faro.
In total, almost 3,000 easyJet passengers were affected.
A spokesperson for the airline said: ““Due to adverse weather at London Gatwick some air traffic control restrictions are in place and easyJet, like other airlines, is currently seeing disruption to some of its flights.
“The safety and welfare of our passengers and crew is easyJet’s highest priority.”
British Airways cancelled round-trips from Gatwick to Amsterdam, Rome and Venice, while Flybe grounded a flight to Newquay and back and Aer Lingus cut a return trip from Dublin.
A BA flight from Venice touched down 14 hours late after disruption on Thursday night caused it to fall foul of the noise curfew at the Italian airport.
Gatwick is the world’s busiest single-runway airport.
At Heathrow, 10 British Airways short-haul arrivals and departures were cancelled, including domestic flights to Glasgow and Newcastle.
A BA spokesperson said: “We’re sorry that some of our customers’ travel plans have been affected due to fog at London’s airports, which has led to a reduction in the number of aircraft which can land each hour.
“For safety reasons Air Traffic Control has to allow greater space between each aircraft in low visibility and this has a knock-on effect onto airlines’ flight schedules.
“We are refunding or rebooking any affected customers onto alternative flights so they can continue their journeys as soon as possible.”
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