23-Dec-2010 9:23 AM

European airports work to return operations to normal

European airports moved to return operations to normal on 22-Dec-2010, as snow conditions eased (AAP/Associated Press/BBC News/Bloomberg/BreakingNews.ie/Deutsche-Welle/irishtimes.com/Reuters, 22-Dec-2010):

  • UK/Ireland:
    • Birmingham Airport: stated it remains open, but advised passengers to check with their airline before arriving at the airport;
    • Cork Airport: stated it was operating as normal on 22-Dec-2010;
    • Dublin Airport: reopened at 07:15 on 22-Dec-2010, but reported severe disruptions after being closed on 21-Dec-2010. Some 230 flights were cancelled on 21-Dec-2010. Staff worked overnight to clear 90,000 tonnes of snow from the airfield. Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) expected the airport to return to normal operations within 24 hours;
    • East Midlands Airport: stated it remains open, but advised passengers to check with their airline before arriving at the airport;
    • Exeter Airport: announced (22-Dec-2010) it anticipated most flights would operate as scheduled for the day, but warned there may be disruption to some services due to adverse weather at other airports; [more]
    • London Gatwick Airport: warned passengers to expect some delays on 22-Dec-2010, following more snow;
    • London Heathrow Airport: announced (22-Dec-2010) it was operating a reduced flight schedule for the day, as aircraft and crews moved back into position. The airport planned to operate 70% of normal services, almost 900 flights in total. It was hoping to return to full operations by the end of the day and operate normal or near normal schedule on 23-Dec-2010. The airport added it is "absolutely" aiming to have all stranded passengers cleared by Christmas; [more]
    • Manchester Airport: announced (22-Dec-2010) it has been able to reopen during the adverse weather conditions due to a combination of forward-planning, new equipment and lessons learnt from last winter’s disruption. So far 650,000 litres of de-icing fluid has been used to ensure aircraft can safely operate from the airport, while around 50,000 cubic metres of snow have been cleared from the airfield. More than GBP2 million of investment in new equipment has also boosted the airport’s fleet of snow-clearing equipment, ensuring 1 million sqm of airfield remained fully operational during the big freeze;
      • By 21-Dec-2010, Manchester Airport was able to offer to help get flights away that should have departed from Heathrow with around 600 passengers leaving that day to Doha and Hong Kong. Manchester Airport expected to welcome a further 1000 passengers from Heathrow on 22-Dec-2010 travelling to Doha, the US, Dubai and Hong Kong;
      • Since 17-Dec-2010, Manchester Airport has accepted 26 diversions which were unable to land at airports in southern England, with a further 10 from Paris and Frankfurt;
      • Manchester was closed for night operations on 17-Dec-2010 for around 180 minutes, which resulted in 10 flights being diverted to other airports. On the evening of 19-Dec-2010, freezing fog meant that several smaller aircraft had to land at alternative airports due to poor visibility. More than 100 flights out of 1600 have either been cancelled or delayed at Manchester since 17-Dec-2010, due to displaced aircraft and snow-closures at other airports; [more]
  • Continental Europe:
    • Amsterdam Schiphol: expected 20 to 25 flights to be cancelled for 22-Dec-2010 due to problems at London, Frankfurt and Brussels (Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 22-Dec-2010);
    • Brescia Airport: announced (22-Dec-2010) that due to bad weather conditions in Germany, France and UK, flight schedules to/from the airport may be affected; [more]
    • Brussels Airport: stated services were mostly back to normal on 22-Dec-2010, with only a few flights to Switzerland cancelled;
    • Frankfurt Airport: stated it has returned to operating at full capacity on 22-Dec-2010, but stated "it will take a while to catch up" on previously disrupted services. The airport had a backlog of 3500 passengers and cancelled 70 flights of 1300 for the day;
    • Paris Charles de Gaulle: French Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DCAG) ordered the cancellation of 15% of flights for five hours on 22-Dec-2010, with its schedule to be cut by 25% for 24-Dec-2010;
    • Polish airports: announced (22-Dec-2010) they have recorded no weather-related disruption in air traffic, but warned adverse weather conditions for the day posed a threat to operations; [more]
  • Eastern Europe:
    • Sofia Airport: was forced to cancel a number of flights on 22-Dec-2010 due to fog (The Sofia Echo, 22-Dec-2010);

Airlines announced the following disruptions:

  • UK/Ireland:
    • Aer Lingus: plans to increase capacity between Dublin and Madrid, Frankfurt and London Heathrow to handle its backlog of passengers;
    • British Airways: announced (22-Dec-2010) it is now rebuilding its operations after five days of very severe disruption at its Heathrow base. The carrier has been forced to cancel more than 2000 flights in the past six days;
      • Over the weekend, the airline 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. As airports such as Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris and Brussels and several others were forced to close, around half of the short-haul Airbus fleet at Heathrow also became stuck at the wrong airports;
      • This has led to severe disruption to the rosters of 14,000 cabin crew and more than 3000 pilots which all need to be redesignated so that the airline has enough crew to operate its flying schedule over the Christmas and New Year period;
      • On 23-Dec-2010 and 24-Dec-2010, the airline is hoping to operate its full long-haul departure schedule from Heathrow. It will also operate a normal schedule at Gatwick and London City airports. The airline aims to operate the vast majority of short-haul flights to/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 short-haul seat numbers at Gatwick and London City to several European and UK destinations, which are also served at Heathrow. It noted it was struggling to adjust its schedule from previous advice from Heathrow that it would only be able to operate one third of its normal schedule;
      • On 22-Dec-2010 the airline flew 275-seat B777s to Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Madrid to help clear the backlogs; [more]
    • Ryanair: announced plans to operate additional 14 flights to Belgium, France, Ireland, Poland and the UK network for 23-Dec-2010, to allow disrupted passengers to return home for Christmas; [more]
    • Virgin Atlantic: stated it would operate 24 flights to/from Heathrow on 22-Dec-2010, 60% of its normal schedule from the airport. The carrier stated there is still a "massive backlog" of passengers at Heathrow and passengers should expect its services to/from the airport to return to normal next week. 16 flights were cancelled for the day;
  • Continental Europe:
    • Air France: announced (21-Dec-2010) it operated 3726 flights out of 5093 scheduled flights between 18-Dec-2010 and 21-Dec-2010, ie close to three out of four flights, including the near majority of its long-haul flights. In view of the forecast snowfall expected and in accordance with the French Civil Aviation Authority’s instructions, Air France has cancelled 15% of its medium-haul flights out of Paris CDG between 17.00 on 21-Dec-2010 and midnight on 22-Dec-2010, 20% of its medium-haul flights at Paris CDG on 23-Dec-2010 and 20% of its medium-haul flights until 13.00 at Paris-Orly; [more]
    • Air Malta: announced (22-Dec-2010) all flights operating from Malta in the morning departed on time or with slight delays. The carrier was not expecting any substantial delays for the afternoon and evening flights; [more]
    • Alitalia: stated all domestic, international and intercontinental services were to operate as normal on 22-Dec-2010 (WAPA, 22-Dec-2010);
    • Lufthansa: announced (22-Dec-2010) disruptions continued for the day across Germany and Europe, but stated the weather situation in Frankfurt is improving and the cargo handling at Frankfurt Airport is normalising. It stated it expected a "quasi-normal situation" for the day. Due to this, some restrictions were eased. Lufthansa Cargo freighters will continue flying cargo largely without restrictions. But freighter flights as well are subject to delays and in isolated cases, to cancellations because of the weather. To overcome the shipment backlog in Frankfurt, Lufthansa Cargo is planning extra sections on upcoming days. According to the weather outlook, the snow is expected to thaw and be accompanied by rain in Frankfurt in the coming hours and next few days. The carrier stated it sincerely hopes the situation will ease in Frankfurt soon; [more]
    • Olympic Air: announced (22-Dec-2010) it cancelled flights between Athens and Sofia for 22-Dec-2010, due to bad weather conditions in Sofia; [more]
  • Eastern Europe:
    • Bulgaria Air: announced (22-Dec-2010) it was forced to divert a London-Sofia flight to Thessaloniki overnight on 21-Dec-2010, due to fog at Sofia Airport. The flight later operated to Burgas in the morning on 22-Dec-2010, from which passengers were transferred by bus to Sofia. The carrier also reported delays in flights from Sofia to Paris, Brussels, Madrid, Athens, Zurich, Rome and Varna; [more]
  • US/Canada:
    • Air Canada: stated its first flight out of London arrived in Toronto early on 22-Dec-2010 (CityNews.ca, 22-Dec-2010);
  • North Asia:
    • Cathay Pacific operated an additional three services from the UK to Hong Kong on 21-Dec-2010 to handle the backlog of passengers (Bloomberg, 22-Dec-2010). The carrier transported passengers by bus from London to Manchester, from which it operated the flights. It planned to operate further services from Manchester, as well as an additional flight from Heathrow on 22-Dec-2010. It resumed regular four times daily Hong Kong-Heathrow service on 22-Dec-2010;
  • Asia Pacific:
    • Qantas operated all seven scheduled services between Australia and the UK on 22-Dec-2010, with only two flight delays (IBTimes.com.au, 22-Dec-2010). One Hong Kong-London service has been cancelled for today (23-Dec-2010), while the remainder of flights to/from the UK are to operate, according to Qantas’ website;
  • Middle East:
    • Kuwait Airways Corporation: stated it has shifted passengers to other airlines over the past two days due to the closure of Heathrow (KUNA, 22-Dec-2010). The carrier cancelled all flights to Heathrow between 18-Dec-2010 to 20-Dec-2010;
  • Africa:
    • South Africa Airways: operated two additional morning flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Heathrow on 22-Dec-2010 (SABCNews, 22-Dec-2010). The carrier was forced to cancel 18 flights during the closure of Heathrow.

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