Transport secretary Philip Hammond has called for a review of how the bad weather has so badly affected UK airports.

He spoke out as Colin Matthews, chief executive of Heathrow owner BAA, said he was “truly sorry” for the disruption which has left hundreds of passengers stranded due to grounded flights.

Hammond said “now was not the time” to make decisions on whether more cash should be invested in helping Britain’s infrastructure deal with the extreme cold.

“Once we’ve got out of the current situation and we have cleared the backlogs at the airports then we do need to ask whether we need to make a step-change in investment priorities,” he said.

“But if we invest more money in winter resilience then that means less money to invest in other things.

“But we need to do this decision-making in a clear, clam, rational way looking at what’s the real likelihood of these events happening again in the future. Now is not the time to make these decisions.”

Further snowfalls of up to 20cm are expected today, with the South, including London, Wales and the Midlands, due to see another covering.