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Heathrow flights decimated



Heathrow Airport has cancelled one in ten flights today due to low visibility.


It took the decision to cancel services last night, saying that not doing so would cause significant disruption to passengers and flights.


But it warned that it was possible poor weather conditions at other European airports would increase the number of flight cancellations throughout today and urged passengers to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport.


"When there is low visibility, more space has to be left between aircraft. Many airports have plenty of spare runway capacity so aircraft can be spaced out more during low visibility without causing delays and cancellations. Because Heathrow operates at almost full capacity, there is simply no room to reschedule the delayed flights," it said.


British Airways said passengers should only go to the airport if their flight is operating. Shortly after midnight it posted this notice on its website: "We are doing everything we can to help you if you have been disrupted and we fully apologise for the inconvenience caused to your travel plans.

"Like other airlines at Heathrow we have complied with a request to reduce our schedule by 10% on Monday."


BA is giving passengers due to travel today and tomorrow the option to rebook for flights departing between January 24 and February 12 at no extra costs.


Virgin Atlantic said it planned to continue operating as normal today, but advised passengers to check their flight was operating before travelling to the airport.


Other London airports were all open this morning but warned of possible delays due to the weather.


Heathrow said cancelling flights in advance introduces space into the schedule and aims to reduce disruption for passengers by:

  • Allowing airlines to rebook passengers onto un-allocated seats on other flights, significantly reducing the number of passengers that cannot travel that day
  • Giving passengers clear information about the status of their flight so they can rebook from home or their hotel
  • Helping to avoid flights being cancelled at short notice, significantly reducing the chances of people staying at terminals overnight
  • The decision to reduce the flight schedule is made by a group called the Heathrow Airport Demand and Capacity Balancing Group, which includes representatives from British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.


The process of cancelling flights in advance of severe weather warnings is similar to that used by many leading airports across the world as a way to allow passengers to make better informed decisions about their travel arrangements before arriving at the airport.


By Linsey McNeill

Monday, January 21, 2013



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  • Praise for Ryanair (and Decimate!)

    Agree with Vince and Richard here, though i suppose the marketing men at Heathrow might prefer 'scaled down' to 'decimated' even though the latter is technically correct! Re David's comment, fans of Ryanair should check his link to his blog, though I'm afraid I'm not sure I agree with his logic offering praise to Ryanair. I replied to his blog as follows: I, too, rarely have cause to praise Ryanair, and generally find myself making derogatory comments (couldn't find my thesaurus, so guess that's what pejorative implies too!) And though pleased to see an unbiased source offering praise, am not entirely convinced it is fully justified. As the travel mole article mentions, Heathrow has to operate at almost full capacity and has little ability to stagger departures in poor weather. should the praise here not be for Gatwick itself, since as long as planes are allowed to land and take off on time by air traffic control, aside from a technical problem shouldn't all airlines be capable of what Ryanair has achieved here? But since I am far from a technical expert in this field I stand to be corrected by one!

    By derek small, Monday, January 21, 2013

  • You beat me to it....

    ...Vince. I, too, deplore the all too common misuse of the word "decimate" as a synonym for "vastly reduce" or even "eliminate". Mind you, so common has the misuse become that I fear it has already become acceptable and I suppose, to be fair, there is no single-word verb meaning "greatly reduce".

    By Richard English, Monday, January 21, 2013

  • Ryanair and Gatwick Beat Weather

    The Heathrow experience over the weekend couldn't be more different from my experience with Ryanair and Gatwick Airport. See: http://bit.ly/XrZN4n

    By David Burdon, Monday, January 21, 2013

  • Correct use of the word

    How rare and refreshing to see a journalist use the word 'decimate' correctly.

    By Vince Furnier, Monday, January 21, 2013

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