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SNOW: Many BA cancellations and delays from 3pm, free rebooking offered

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Due to the heavy snow and freezing temperatures expected at Heathrow this afternoon, there are major delays and cancellations of flights to be expected.

National Air Traffic Services has informed Heathrow Airport of expected delays due to the need to de-ice aircraft before they can take off and to continually remove snow and ice from the runways and taxiways.

BA snow

If you check the status for BA flights from heathrow on this BA site, you can see that a number of flights have either departed early, are delayed or have been cancelled.

If you are booked on a flight between 3pm and midnight today, you can rebook for free.  This offer is available even if your flight is currently still showing as operating.  BA wants to keep as many people away from Heathrow as possible this afternoon.

Free rebooking is available onto any flight departing on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.


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Comments (54)

  • Hingeless says:

    I assume NATS don’t use the same source of weather data as the BBC

    Forecast Summary
    Today
    Cloud and rain, heavy at times, will move eastwards during the day. Rain will turn to snow over the hills, and perhaps to some low levels into the evening rush hour, with some disruption likely in places. Feeling cold.

    Tonight
    Rain, sleet and snow will clear away to the south-east this evening, with clear skies following on behind, leading to widespread ice rapidly forming on untreated surfaces.

    • planesailing38 says:

      NATS use data from the MET office. Heathrow also has a MET office representative available for adverse weather during the conference calls on flow rates and flow controls.

      • the real harry1 says:

        It is pretty outrageous how NATS is so full of cover-my-backsiders – they over-react to everything.

        We were victims of the volcanic ash debacle a couple of years ago, not that I was complaining about the extra week out at our place – it was glorious hot weather and obviously the schools weren’t bothered with that excuse.

        Bit different if you miss your flight, effectively (it will turn out, I’m sure) for no good reason.

        You wouldn’t get any airport in Europe reacting like this with a bit of snow forecast.

        • Rob says:

          Probably no other airport in Europe is run like Heathrow though! And no other European airport runs with a 90 second gap between movements on the same runway, non-stop, for 18 hours per day.

          • xcalx says:

            Could do with another runway!!! lol

          • Lady London says:

            I know. I used to live in Kew, under the flightpath -) You could count the planes coming in every 90 seconds especially on Sunday evenings one after the other. As soon as one had flown with its noise over, as at Kew they are very close to landing, the next would come over.

            I should think an air traffic controller at Heathrow could get a job anywher in the world.

        • Simon says:

          I’d imagine at most other European airports you’d either have:
          – proper preparedness for snow, because it happens often enough to justify the investment, or
          – carrying on as normal and running with delays which are cleared because the airport doesn’t run at capacity, or
          – carrying on as normal, not coping, and having their version of the Mail running headlines like “CHAOS! Now even our airports cannot cope!”….
          Not entirely disagreeing with you, but I do think they’re dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t…

        • LHR Air Traffic Controller says:

          @the real harry1: On volcanic ash, you’re confusing the CAA with NATS.

          LHR is scheduled over 99% of capacity. Any non-optimal weather will have an impact. Other airports can close a runway for 15 minutes to de-ice and very soon recover.

          I’m sure BA, Virgin, Lufthansa et al would gladly permanently give up 10% of their slots just so on the one or two days a year we get snow there’s far less impact.

        • Matthew says:

          You have absolutely no idea on the impact of snow risk and air traffic control, so don’t judge.

        • Another NATS employee says:

          I think you’ll find that de-icing and snow clearance has eff all to with NATS – funny how Gatwick wasn’t affected yet I believe there was snow there too. Probably because LGW went shopping for snow ploughs after the last time they got bitten and LHR didn’t bother their shirts and has been affected badly twice since. It’s no wonder NATS covers it’s backside given how often BA, EasyJet et al blame them for stuff that’s actually not their fault!

          And Rob, for the record, National Air Traffic Services doesn’t exist, NATS is the brand name now, previously derived as the acronym of the full thing ….

          • Jordan D says:

            Oh, LHR went shopping. You’ve clearly never looked out the window coming into land on 27R and seen the vast quanitity of snow clearing equipment that has sat there, idle since the last “why hasn’t LHR bought any slow removing equipment” complaints.

    • Fenny says:

      Four people with smart phones in our office, four different forecasts for the local area. Plus the BBC weather page.

    • Tarka Meerkat says:

      The forecast is not just about snow, the Met forecast for Heathrow later predicts visibility as low as 500 metres, low cloud and gusting cross winds of up to 38kts with a possibility of Wind Shear being present. All of this adds up to difficult conditions for pilots and a reduced landing rate is inevitable. This has led to the decision from some airlines to cancel some flights. BA is cancelling some short haul domestic and European flights to ensure that the long haul flights can continue to operate.

  • LHR Air Traffic Controller says:

    NATS does not insist on airlines cancelling flights.

    It has no power to do so.

    NATS informs the airlines and Heathrow Airport of the expected landing rate and expected delays, and the airlines either voluntarily reduce their schedules or, if the impact is expected to be severe, the HADACAB process is invoked which all the airlines have signed up to. This forces them to cancel a proportion of flights, again, this is organised by Heathrow Airport.

    NATS has no ability to cancel flights, or to force airlines to cancel flights.

    • Rob says:

      True. But it takes up a lot more space to explain than what I wrote 🙂

      And, if we’re being picky!, if NATS can invoke a process which forces airlines to cancel a proportion of their flights, then NATS has the power to force airlines to cancel flights …..

      • LHR Air Traffic Controller says:

        No, NATS can’t invoke a process, Heathrow Airport do that. NATS provide expected land rate and delays. It’s up to Heathrow Airport if they act on that information.

  • IslandDweller says:

    Isn’t it Heathrow (the airport owners) who have required the cancellations – not NATS directly.
    Re the first comment – the low visibility will mean reduced flow rate

  • James67 says:

    BBC weather forecasr minutes ago “the problem is not snow and ice, it’s RELENTLES DRIZZLE washing away the grit”. Only in the UK!

  • Mike says:

    The worst day I remember in West London was 31/01/03 a seemingly benign day that turned into a treacherous evening as the snow coincided with a swift temperature drop.

  • Ro says:

    I work about 4 miles from heathrow and currently all we have is rain so far. could still turn to snow later of course

  • the real harry1 says:

    O/T 16YO’s are too young to join AerClub, strange (my son)

    • the real harry1 says:

      and AerClub won’t accept my 6 digit avios.com password – must be 8, except it’s not

  • Tarka Meerkat says:

    As LHR Air Traffic Controller says, NATS can no insist that airlines cancel flights.

    @thereal harry1, The Civil Aviation Authority closed UK airspace during the Volcanic Ash incident, not NATS. Those “cover-my-backsliders” protect your sorry ass every time you fly in our over congested airways, safety is the prime concern.

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