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Published on Thursday, December 23, 2010

SNOW UPDATE: Unprepared Heathrow refused to let airlines clear runways due to health and safety


Airlines offered Heathrow operator BAA help in clearing snow and ice from the runways but were turned down for health and safety reasons, it emerged today.
Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond has already revealed that the government offered BAA troops to de-ice the runways but were told that the operator could handle it by itself.
Now, according to the Daily Telegraph, it seems Lufthansa and another unnamed airline said they asked to help because BAA was not clearing snow fast enough but were told that it contravened health and safety rules.
BAA has admitted that it was ill-prepared for the snow. Only a third of flights were able to operate during the bad weather because the airport had just 10 snow ploughs and seven de-icing vehicles. Gatwick, a much smaller airport, has 14 snow ploughs.
The paper reports a Lufthansa spokesman as saying: "The whole process took too long and should have been started earlier. There was not enough manpower available, we were surprised how long it took to get things operational.
"We were not allowed to clean stands for health and safety reasons. BAA gets a lot of money to operate the airport and they refused to do that."
Another airline said BAA was being “jobsworth” about clearing the snow, refusing to allow frustrated airlines to help.
Unbelievably, under current CAA regulations, BAA cannot be fined for its unprepared approach to the weather. However, transport minister Theresa Villiers suggested this morning that the regulations needed to be overhauled.
She told the Telegraph: “The recent episode reinforces the necessity of reforming airport regulation.”
A bill is now being put together that would give the CAA far stronger sanctions, via new licence conditions.
If an airport did not respond to demands for better performance from the CAA, then it could fine and then ultimately take away a company’s licence to operate an airport.
by Dinah Hatch


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  • send them to Manchester Airport

    Why travel via Heathrow . Mnachester Airport has been running a full service and in fact handled 26 diverted aircraft from London. Maybe we should have a better balance of flights with more long haul services from the north of England!

    By kenneth garrity, Thursday, December 23, 2010

  • Reforms needed

    I find it outrageous that the BAA seems to be totally self governed, with no recourse by the people they are meant to serve. Unfortunately, its another case of 'PC' crazyness gone even more crazy. Airlines and the public contribute to the running of our UK Airports and so they must be fined if they are unable to provide the service that they are paid for. Its us the Travel Agents, Airlines and Public who end up having to pay for the inefficiency of the BAA. Its imperative that the Goverment now step in the stop this happening again. It has certainly taken the 'Great' out of Great Britian! and made us a Global laughing stock.

    By Debbie Crampton, Thursday, December 23, 2010

  • Icy pavements, blocked roads and runways, delayed and cancelled trains, buses and coaches

    To find out how the weather has affected travel, we have launched a survey. Please 'snowball' the link through your networks (friends, relatives, colleagues) as well as completing it yourself. Dr Jo Guiver Institute of Transport and Tourism University of Central Lancashire Preston, PR1 2HE [email protected] 01772 894923

    By Jo Guiver, Thursday, December 23, 2010

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