Air travel chaos and cancelled flights continue with more snow and freezing weather forecast. Thousands of passengers are currently stranded at Heathrow Airport and Gatwick has cancelled several flights already today.
The travel disruption is unlikely to let up this week with up to 20cm more snow on its way and temperatures set to stay below freezing. Last night Chesham in Buckinghamshire recorded temperatures of -19.6c, the coldest in the UK.
Million have already had their Christmas travel plans ruined as flights were delayed or cancelled over the weekend. Snow and ice grounded the most flights in and out of Britain yesterday, with Heathrow Airport the worst hit.
Today, Heathrow has cancelled 70 of its 130 departing flights and 89 of its 133 arrivals as the Met Office issued a new emergency weather warning. More snow is expected in London today.
Gatwick Airport is open today and services are said to be returning to normal. However passengers are warned to check with their airline before setting off as delays and cancellations will continue.
Delays are also expected at London’s City Airport due to freezing fog.
Get flight information here: baa.com
There is anger over how BAA – which operates Heathrow Airport – has handled the crisis. Thousands of travellers have been left with their Christmas plans in ruins after learning that some flights will be delayed by up to five days.
Passengers were forced to sleep at Heathrow airport under foil blankets for a third night last night and fury is mounting. Those stranded at the airport have complained about the way they’ve been treated, comparing scenes to a refugee camp.
London mayor, Boris Johnson, rang BAA chief Colin Matthews on behalf of the thousands of frustrated air travellers.
“I stressed the huge economic importance of Heathrow. I also expressed my hope that they would pull out all the stops to ensure that the planes get moving again. Most people realise that it has not snowed at Heathrow for some time so it is vital everything is done to get the aircraft and passengers moving again,” Johnson said.
Matthews has made a public apology for the inconvenience caused by Heathrow’s delays.
“I’m really disappointed to have disrupted so many thousands of people’s Christmas plans,” Matthews said on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“I couldn’t be more sorry, that’s the case.”
However, Heathrow is still running far from smoothly. A statement on the airport’s website said: “as airlines move diverted aircraft and crew back to their normal positions and we continue to manage the impact of the poor weather.”
British Airways has said that passengers should only travel to the airport if their flight has been confirmed. “Most of our aircraft are still frozen. With incredibly low temperatures at Heathrow, it is difficult to get anything moving,” said a spokesperson.
Around the country, snow caused delays and cancellations at Stansted, Luton, Exeter, London City, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton, Cardiff and Birmingham and Aberdeen airports over the weekend.
Many train routes have also been affected and extreme weather caused delays on Tube lines including the Metropolitan, District and Bakerloo lines.
Get train travel information here: nationalrail.co.uk
Driving conditions remain dangerous according to motorists organisations and serious accidents have been reported due to icy roads.
Get information on road conditions here: highways.gov.uk