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London Heathrow cancels more flights as snow continues

Date: 22-Jan-13
Country: UK
Author: Rhys Jones and Lorraine Turner

London Heathrow cancels more flights as snow continues Photo: Neil Hall
An Air Canada aircraft takes off after snowfall at Heathrow airport in London January 21, 2013.
Photo: Neil Hall

London's Heathrow airport canceled 10 percent of flights on Monday because of snow, about half the number cut on Sunday, and said there could be further disruption with more snowfall expected.

Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, said it had cut around 130 flights - most operated by IAG'S British Airways - from its schedule on Monday to allow more space between aircraft because of low visibility.

"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," a Heathrow spokesman said.

The airport scrapped some 250 flights on Sunday and said the decision had helped it to operate smoothly.

British Airways said it had canceled around 350 flights in total since Friday.

Further light snowfalls and poor visibility were forecast at Heathrow through Monday and Tuesday, the Met Office national weather service said, adding to the likelihood to further cancellations

Ferrovial's Heathrow has spent 36 million pounds ($57 million) on upgrading its winter weather equipment since 2010 - a year when it was heavily criticized for almost shutting down when snow hit just before Christmas. It now has 130 snow-clearing vehicles.

London's second airport, Gatwick, said it was operating as normal on Monday morning but that delays and some flight cancellations were likely because of bad weather across Europe.

Two Greek passengers told Reuters they would be stranded at Gatwick for the next 24 hours with no money after snow delayed their train, meaning they had missed their flight.

"They don't care about us, we told them we need somewhere to live until tomorrow and they just looked at us and said 'Oh'," said psychologist Georgina Kourousiakli, 24, sitting with her friend Fay Sakellariou, 24, who was wrapped in a red blanket.

"We don't have any money to eat or buy anything ... we can't call home. I see many people who have missed their flights. "We're quiet but angry."

The smaller Stansted airport said it was open and operational but that it expected to see some Ryanair flights canceled during the day.

East Midlands Airport, in central England, said its single runway would remain closed until later on Monday, while City Airport - close to London's financial district - re-opened its one runway after closing it earlier in the morning.

(Reporting by Rhys Jones and Lorraine Turner, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Kevin Liffey)

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