British Airways plans to operate a full long-haul programme and the “vast majority” of shorthaul services from Heathrow tomorrow as it recovers from the chaos caused by Saturday’s snow.
In a statement released today the airline said it will fly larger aircraft to some European cities as it tries to clear the back log of passengers before Christmas Day.
Over the past six days BA has been forced to cancel 2,000 flights disrupting the travel pans of tens of thousands of people as Heathrow failed to keep its runways open.
The airport’s southern runaway finally opened last night after snow clearing equipment had successfully cleared aircraft stands and the northern runway.
BA said over the weekend it had to divert more than 40 fully loaded long haul aircraft to airports across Iceland, Spain, Cyprus, France, Greece, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and many regional airports across the UK.
With Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris and Brussels and several other airports closed across Europe, around half of the short haul Airbus fleet at Heathrow became stuck at the wrong airports.
The carrier said this has led to severe disruption to the rosters of 14,000 cabin crew and more than 3,000 pilots which needed to be redrafted to cover Christmas and New Year.
Tomorrow and Friday BA is hoping to operate its full long haul departure schedule from Heathrow and normal schedules at Gatwick and London City airports.
It added it will operate the vast majority of short haul flights to and from Heathrow and is looking to increase the number of seats by flying larger long haul aircraft to European cities where possible.
British Airways is also hiring in extra aircraft and is increasing shorthaul seat numbers at Gatwick and London City to several European and UK destinations, which are also served at Heathrow.
The airline advised customers to check their bookings on its website to see if their flight is still operating before leaving for the airport.
Willie Walsh, British Airways chief executive, said: “I am very sorry for all the disruption and inconvenience that our customers have faced around the world in the past few days.
“Our teams are working around the clock to get as many people where they want to be ahead of Christmas Day and we are doing all we can to increase the number of seats available.
“We typically spend six weeks pulling together the complex Christmas rosters for our 14,000 cabin crew and more than 3,000 pilots.
“Those 17,000 rosters are like a giant global jigsaw puzzle, which has been torn up by the days of disruption at Heathrow and around the world.
“We now have around a day to rebuild those rosters, so that we get the maximum number of flights into the air ahead of Christmas.
“This is a huge logistical task but we won’t stop working until we fill our aircraft with as many customers as possible.”