Passengers attempting to use Heathrow today and during the run-up to Christmas face further severe weather disruption as a row blew up over who was to blame for flights being frozen out over the weekend.
Accusations flew between the airport’s operator BAA and British Airways over the failure to cope with the snow and ice as the airline was forced to cancel all its flights from the airport yesterday (Sunday).
BAA said Heathrow only managed a “handful” of departures and no arriving flights following a day of delays and cancellations on Saturday, with BA withdrawing 50 services.
A further 70 flights have been cancelled today, although 60 are due to operate. A total of 89 of its 133 arrivals have been suspended.
Some passengers were forced to sleep in Heathrow terminals for a third night as flights were grounded.
One million passengers are due to pass through Heathrow this week. But with warnings of further bad weather in the next few days, some travellers whose flights have been cancelled were told they faced waits of up to five days as the chaos mounted.
The airport operator admitted that there would be further cancellations and delays today as it continued with attempts to clear snow and ice.
The knock-on effect will continue for an unspecified number of days as airlines move diverted aircraft and crew back to their normal positions.
“We ask passengers to check with their airlines before travelling to the airport and we will provide regular updates and airline contact numbers through heathrowairport.com,” BAA said.
Addressing the problems yesterday, the company said: “We listened carefully to the advice of our airside operations team and reluctantly judged that while Heathrow’s northern runway remains clear, the change in temperature overnight led to a significant build up on ice on parking stands around the planes and this requires part of the airfield to remain closed until it is safe to move planes around.”
BA warned today that its Heathrow operations faced “significant disruption” due to the severe weather conditions as it provided a revised schedule until midday today.
“Please do not travel to the airport unless your flight is operating,” the airline said.
The “vast majority” of BA flights are expected to operate from Gatwick and London City airport.
Delays are expected at Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports and there are delays and cancellations on Eurostar and rail services across the country.