The airline industry could face a £10 million bill from cancelled flights after the heaviest snow in the UK for 18 years brought chaos to airports. Services at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, London City Airport and Southampton were severely disrupted, together with road, rail and public transport connections.
At Heathrow, a plane slipped off a taxiway. Snow and ice are being blamed for the incident which happened when a Cyprus Airways flight landed this morning and was moving to T1.BAA said no passengers were harmed. A BAA spokesperson said the front wheel of the plane had landed in the grass area and was being removed.
The plane, which landed at 0820 GMT was the last flight to land before both the runways at the airport were closed due to snow and ice, however the southern runway has since reopened.
A BAA spokesman said the airport was using many of the 58 snow ploughs, snow blowers and other specialist vehicles in its fleet as it fought to reopen the runways.
A British Airways spokesman said: “Due to heavy snowfall, operations at UK airports are being severely disrupted. At Heathrow airport, there is only very limited use of one runway and thick snow on the ground is severely restricting all airlines ability to operate flights.
“As a result we have had to cancel all flights from Heathrow until 1700 this afternoon and advise passengers due to travel before 1700 not to come to the airport.
“Arriving flights will either be cancelled or are being diverted to alternative airports.
“Flights at Gatwick continue to operate but with long delays and some cancellations.
“It is likely that this disruption will continue for some considerable time. Customers can either rebook on an alternative flight or claim a refund.”
Now a second mass of freezing clouds moving up from France is expected to bring further wintry storms. Snow is forecast across the country until Friday, although the flurries will become less severe and turn to sleet as the week draws to a close.