Airline passengers face more delays
December 20, 2010
Some of Europe’s busiest airports were clearing snow and managing to re-open for traffic on Monday, but passengers were told to expect major delays and cancellations. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) still couldn’t send any flights to London’s Heathrow Airport Monday morning.
“Things are moving forward, we hope, but it’s moving very slowly,” Kenneth Vikse of SAS told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) early Monday. “For the time being, we here at SAS can’t fly to Heathrow this morning.”
Heathrow, a critical hub in Europe, was closed most of Saturday and Sunday, just as the Christmas holiday traffic rush began. Thousands of travelers were stranded, not only at Heathrow but at many other airports including Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen.
Heathrow re-opened for limited traffic on Monday, but the enormous backlog of flights and extremely restricted capacity forced SAS and several other airlines to continue canceling flights. “They’re accepting around 10 flights an hour compared to the usual 150,” Vikse told NRK. British Airways was able to send some of its flights back to its homebase, but not many others.
Other airports in the UK also were re-opening, including Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham, London City and Edinburgh but operations were far from being on schedule. Paris’ Charles de Gaulle reopened as well, but Orly was remaining closed until late morning.
The airport at Frankfurt, another major hub especially for Star Alliance airlines like Lufthansa, SAS and United, also re-opened for extremely limited traffic but warned of delays of up to three hours for incoming flights.
Meanwhile, more snow and and ice were in the forecast all over northern Europe. In Oslo, temperatures were due to plunge back down into the double-digit figures below zero. Passengers could find live flight information (external link) on the website for OSL Gardermoen, and were advised to contact their airline before heading for the airport.