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European airports start to resume operations, others close

21-Dec-2010 9:36 AM

European airports started to resume some operations, while others closed on 20-Dec-2010, as heavy snow continued to move across the continent (AFP/Associated Press/Bloomberg/BBC News/Reuters/Wall Street Journal, 20-Dec-2010/AFP, 21-Dec-2010). EUROCONTROL estimates more than 22,500 flights were cancelled across Europe during the day, with up to a 65% reduction in flights at some major airports, including Berlin Tegel, Frankfurt, London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle. The European Union (EU) advised passengers to double check flight information before leaving home (KUNA, 20-Dec-2010).

  • UK/Ireland:
    • Aberdeen Airport: stated it was open but about 25% of its flights were cancelled on 20-Dec-2010;
    • Belfast City Airport: announced (20-Dec-2010) it remains operational, but is experiencing cancellations and delays. [more]
    • Bristol Airport: was open on 20-Dec-2010, after snow was cleared from the runways and taxiways, but reported some delays and cancellations (This Is Bristol, 20-Dec-2010);
    • Cardiff Airport: announced (20-Dec-2010) it is open, but flights may be cancelled or delayed. The airport reopened at 16:00; [more]
    • Cork Airport: operating normally on 20-Dec-2010 (JOE.ie, 20-Dec-2010);
    • Dublin Airport: suspended all flights on 20-Dec-2010 (BreakingNews.ie, 20-Dec-2010). Flights were expected to resume at 21:30;
    • Edinburgh Airport: reopened on 20-Dec-2010, but still expected some delays and cancellations (BOOKFHR.com, 20-Dec-2010);
    • Glasgow Airport: was open on 20-Dec-2010 but reported delays and cancellations;
    • London Biggin Hill Airport: remained open on 20-Dec-2010 (This Is Local London, 20-Dec-2010);
    • London Gatwick Airport: closed during the evening on 20-Dec-2010, stating there will be no departures from the airport until 06:00 on 21-Dec-2010 (travelio.net, 20-Dec-2010). The airport announced (20-Dec-2010) weather forecasts show that up to 10cm of snow could fall across London and the south-east overnight in a very short period. The airport stated it is ready to respond with a 150-strong airfield team and 49 snow-clearing vehicles, including two additional snow ploughs brought in from Zurich last Saturday morning. The airport advised that given the the weather warning, passengers travelling through Gatwick on 20-Dec-2010 and the rest of the week should check their flight status and should only arrive at the airport if their flight has been confirmed. [more]
    • London Heathrow Airport: announced (20-Dec-2010) it has agreed to operate a reduced flying schedule until 06:00 on 22-Dec-2010. One runway is operational, while the other remains closed for the period. Only 20 flights landed/departed at the airport, compared with the normal 1300. A maximum one-third of flights are likely to operate during this period, stating passengers should anticipate further delays and cancellations in the following days and potentially beyond Christmas. It stated passengers should not travel to Heathrow without a confirmed booking.
      • The UK Government has decided to permit extra flights throughout the night at Heathrow. The northern runway is open and handling a limited number of arrivals and departures.
      • Earlier in the day, Heathrow prioritised aircraft that had previously been diverted, in order to bring passengers to Heathrow and get airline crews and aircraft in the right place; [more]
      • BAA CEO Colin Matthews stated the airport expects that "more flights would have to be cancelled" and it will not operate at full capacity for "some days to come". He added Mr airlines must be realistic in their schedules to clear the backlog of passengers (Sky News, 20-Dec-2010).
      • The CEO vowed to look into how BAA can improve its performance in the future, adding that it "may well be" that it requires more equipment to combat the cold weather. He denied owner Ferrovial does not have enough funds to invest in the airport.;
      • BAA Spokesperson Andrew Teacher apologised for the disruptions, stating the situation is "improving slowly";
      • UK Transport Secretary Philip Hammond stated the government would hold an inquiry into how stranded passengers have been handled;
      • ABTA Chairman John McEwan criticised UK airports for failing to communicate effectively with customers during the weekend’s bad weather (TTG Live, 20-Dec-2010). While conceding that the weather conditions have presented a difficult situation for airport, he added: “I don’t think there has been the best communication with customers in terms of what is happening." He also criticised the government for being ill-equipped to cope with the weekend’s conditions. Similarly, Travel Counsellors Chairman David Speakman stated BAA should “hang their heads in shame" at the conditions faced by passenger at Heathrow and other UK airports (TTG Live, 20-Dec-2010). He added that the shutdown at Heathrow was “deplorable” and the result of a policy of investing in commercial developments at airports rather than equipment that could help customers. He said the UK Government should recognise that the under-investment would have an impact on the UK tourist industry as international travellers would avoid planning trips to the country in winter;
    • Ronaldsway Airport: announced (20-Dec-2010) it was informed shortly after 13:00 that the handling agent, which carries out aircraft de-icing, had run out of fluid. A number of airlines were forced to cancel flights from the airport during the day as a result; [more]
    • Shannon Airport: operating normally on 20-Dec-2010;
  • Continental Europe:  
    • Amsterdam Schiphol Airport: stated operations returned to normal on 20-Dec-2010, but some flights were delayed (DutchNews.nl, 20-Dec-2010);
    • Brussels Airport: suspended operations later in the day on 20-Dec-2010 until 22-Dec-2010, due to a lack of de-icing liquid. The airport stated it is unlikely new stocks would arrive before 22-Dec-2010;
    • ENAC: stated the situation across its Italian airports had almost returned to normal on 20-Dec-2010 (WAPA, 20-Dec-2010);
    • Florence Airport: reopened on 20-Dec-2010;
    • Frankfurt Airport: cancelled around 200 flights of 1300 on 20-Dec-2010. Fraport AG stated the cancellations were due to problems elsewhere in Europe;
    • Geneva Airport: remained open on 20-Dec-2010 but reported a number of delays and cancellations (GenevaLunch, 20-Dec-2010). It cancelled more than 20 flights for the day, compared with 50 the day before;
    • PANSA: announced (20-Dec-2010) flight cancellations and delays in the country have been caused by factors caused outside Polish airspace. Heavy snow was expected in the country on 20-Dec-2010. Warsaw Airport was open on 20-Dec-2010, but reported a number of flight cancellations from western Europe. [more]
    • Munich Airport: cancelled 70 flights on 20-Dec-2010;
    • Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly: French civil aviation authorities requested airlines reduce their flights from Paris by 30% until 18:00 on 20-Dec-2010. Aeroports de Paris stated in the afternoon that conditions were improving but delays and cancellations are likely to continue;
    • Pisa Airport: reopened on 20-Dec-2010;
    • Stockholm Skavsta Airport: advised (20-Dec-2010) passengers weather conditions in Sweden and in Europe are affecting some arriving and departing flights; [more]
    • Zurich Airport: remained open on 20-Dec-2010 but reported a number of delays and cancellations;
  • Eastern Europe:
    • Moscow Airport: remained open on 20-Dec-2010 (The Moscow Times, 20-Dec-2010);
    • Sofia Airport: stated a number of flights to London, Paris and western European destinations were delayed on 20-Dec-2010 (novinite.com, 20-Dec-2010);
    • Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport: remained open but stated a number of flights have been delayed or cancelled during the day (Jerusalem Post, 20-Dec-2010);

As a result, some carriers resumed some operations to/from Europe:

  • UK/Ireland:
    • bmi: all departures from Belfast City Airport were cancelled on 20-Dec-2010, as well as Tbilisi-Baku service (Trend, 20-Dec-2010). It has also cancelled three Belfast City-Heathrow flights for 21-Dec-2010;
    • British Airways: stated the weather conditions would continue to disrupt operations and warned more major disruptions are possible. The carrier cancelled all short-haul services from Heathrow on 20-Dec-2010 and some long-haul services. A total of 83 flights from Heathrow were cancelled for the day. It aimed to have as many flights running from Gatwick and London City as possible. BA stated it was too early to estimate how much the disruptions are costing the airline;
    • easyJet: announced (20-Dec-2010) it would provide increased flexibility for passengers disrupted by the cancellations and delays. The carrier was planning to operate more than 800 flights on 20-Dec-2010 - around 85% of its flying programme. [more]
    • Monarch: announced (19-Dec-2010) all flights on 20-Dec-2010 and 21-Dec-2010 were scheduled to operate as normal, but there may be some delays and disruptions. [more]
  • Continental Europe:
    • Air France: announced (20-Dec-2010) it expected severe delays throughout the day to/from Paris. [more];
    • Air Malta: announced (20-Dec-2010) all morning flights to the UK and northern Europe have operated with slight delays and one flight to Brussels has been cancelled. The carrier will operate Heathrow flights to normal schedule from 21-Dec-2010. Services to Gatwick will also operate as per normal schedule. [more]
    • Alitalia: stated all international and domestic services were operating normally on 20-Dec-2010, but London flights were subject to limitations;
    • KLM: cancelled more than 60 flights to/from Amsterdam on 16-Dec-2010
    • Lufthansa: stated it expected a reduction in flights within Germany and Europe for 20-Dec-2010, but is confident it can operate a full schedule by 22-Dec-2010. It stated it has established a special plan to cope with disruptions from its Frankfurt hub. The carrier criticised BAA, stating it is taking too long for Heathrow to resume full operations and continental European airports are recovering much faster;
    • Olympic Air: announced (20-Dec-2010) the cancellation of flights between Athens and Paris and Brussels. The carrier has scheduled additional services between Athens and Paris on 21-Dec-2010. [more]
  • Eastern Europe:
    • Aeroflot: was forced to reroute three flights bound for Heathrow to Paris and Brussels over the weekend (The Moscow News, 20-Dec-2010);
    • Bulgarian Air: planned to operate a flight from Heathrow to Bulgaria on 20-Dec-2010 (The Sofia Echo, 20-Dec-2010). The carrier cancelled all flights to/from Heathrow on 18-Dec-2010 and 19-Dec-2010. It also operated an additional Sofia-Luton service on 20-Dec-2010. [more];
    • Turkish Airlines: cancelled all Istanbul-London flights on 20-Dec-2010 (World Bulletin, 20-Dec-2010). The carrier announced (20-Dec-2010) plans to operate alternative flights to Stansted on 20-Dec-2010, in place of Heathrow flights. [more]
  • US/Canada:
    • Air Canada: announced (20-Dec-2010) it is only able to operate one-third of its schedule to/from London Heathrow, meaning it is initally allowed to operate only a combination of six take-offs and landings for the day. The carrier plans to use these flights primarily to return aircraft to Canada from London as well as moving to London one aircraft and passengers earlier diverted to Dublin. Due to restrictions at Heathrow, Air Canada planned to operate five departures from London, including two to Toronto and one each to Halifax, Calgary and Vancouver and there will be one flight in during the day from Dublin. [more];
    • United Continental Holdings, Inc announced (20-Dec-2010) expanded travel options for United Airlines and Continental Airlines passengers whose flight plans may be affected by severe winter weather in Europe. The carriers stated they expect some delays and cancellations of flights to and from London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels and Amsterdam airports this week. [more]
  • North Asia:
    • Cathay Pacific: announced (21-Dec-2010) operations to/from London Heathrow are still severely disrupted. The carrier stated it has tried to operate as many flights as possible to London as possible over the past two days and has managed to operate two of the normal four Hong Kong-London flights a day. The carrier stated an Auckland-London flight departed in the afternoon on 20-Dec-2010 (Radio New Zealand, 20-Dec-2010); [more]
  • Southeast Asia:
    • Singapore Airlines: all flights to London remained provisional on 20-Dec-2010 (TODAYonline, 21-Dec-2010). One flight to London was forced to return to Singapore Changi Airport. The carrier also operated one London Heathrow-Singapore flight during the day, one of only seven flights to operate from Heathrow since its partial reopening;
    • Malaysia Airlines: stated it plans to resume flights to London Heathrow after the airport partially resumed operations, but stated it still expects delays due to heavy congestion at Heathrow (Bernama, 20-Dec-2010). The carrier's services remained subject to approval from Heathrow.
    • Thai Airways: announced (20-Dec-2010) the delayed departure and arrival of Bangkok-London Heathrow flights, due to the temporary closure of London Heathrow Airport on 19-Nov-2010; [more]
  • South Pacific:
    • Air New Zealand: stated Auckland-London flights were scheduled to depart on the evening of 20-Dec-2010. Two aircraft previously stranded at London Heathrow also departed on 20-Dec-2010 (NZPA/ONE News, 21-Dec-2010);
    • Qantas: stated it is now operating services to London as scheduled and expected aircraft stranded in Asia to depart for London in the evening of 20-Dec-2010;
  • India:
    • Air India: stated flights from Delhi and Mumbai to London remain grounded, as it awaiting approval to operate flights from Heathrow Airport (The Economic Times, 20-Dec-2010)
    • Kingfisher Airlines: announced (20-Dec-2010) some Mumbai-London Heathrow services will be in operation following the partial reopening of Heathrow. Flights diverted from Heathrow on 19-Dec-2010 were rescheduled to arrive at Heathrow on the evening of 20-Nov-2010. One London Heathrow-Mumbai flight was cancelled during the day on 20-Nov-2010, as the aircraft scheduled to operate the flight was held up at Brussels Airport as local supplies of de-icing fluid have been exhausted and fresh supplies are expected to take some time to be delivered; [more] [more]
    • Pakistan International Airlines: stated it was confident its schedule to/from Europe would be normalised soon as weather conditions have started to improve (Dawn.com, 21-Dec-2010). The carrier was able to operate one Birmingham-Istanbul flight on 20-Dec-2010, while a further two aircraft remain stranded in Paris and Cologne. The carrier also continued to delay two services that were scheduled to operate from London Heathrow to Islamabad on 19-Dec-2010 (Internews, 21-Dec-2010);
    • SriLankan Airlines: planned to operate a previously suspended flight from London Heathrow, shortly after the airport partially reopened (Asiantribune.com, 21-Dec-2010).
  • Middle East:
    • Emirates: resumed operations to Heathrow on 20-Dec-2010 (Gulf News/Khaleej Times, 21-Dec-2010). The carrier operated three additional flights from Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester to handle to backlog of passengers;
    • Etihad Airways: announced (20-Dec-2010) it has resumed operations to London. The carrier operated three flights from Abu Dhabi to London for the day. The carrier also operated an additional flight to Manchester, with passengers transported from Manchester to London by coach. The Abu Dhabi-London flight that was diverted to Frankfurt on 18-Dec-2010 was operated to Manchester; [more]
    • Royal Jordanian: announced (20-Dec-2010) it has resumed Amman-London Heathrow service, after diverting the service to Brussels on 18-Dec-2010 and cancelling the service on 19-Dec-2010; [more]
  • Africa:
    • South African Airways: planned to operate a flight to Heathrow on the evening of 20-Dec-2010, after receiving approval from the airport (SAPA, 20-Dec-2010);

Travel Counsellors: “We have a situation now where airports invest in retail infrastructure rather than customer infrastructure, but the sooner they realise that it is the customers who make them money the better. BAA should hang their heads in shame because it is absolutely disgraceful. What really annoys me is the excuses that follow when the top and tail of it is that there is not enough investment and that is why customers suffer. People will see this on the news and say – 'don’t go to the UK in the winter because you will not get into the airport',” David Speakman, Chairman. Source: TTG Live, 20-Dec-2010.

ABTA: “We’re never quite prepared for this type of weather, not just the airports, but with our trains and roads as well. We regard this kind of weather as being adverse, but it is becoming more the norm now and the government needs to have a look a creating some contingency plans – we need to invest more in our infrastructure. Other countries which regularly experience this kind of weather always seem to continue functioning fine,” John McEwan, Chairman. Source: TTG Live, 20-Dec-2010.