UAE flights to Europe back on schedule

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All of Emirates’ 6 gateway airports in the UK are open..

Even as air traffic at London’s Heathrow Airport crawled back to near normal on Thursday, hotels near the airport are cashing in on delays and cancellations caused by freezing weather, charging up to 300% more for rooms at the moment than prices for next year. According to online booking site Hotels.com, there has also been a 95%  increase in searches for hotels near London Heathrow between last Saturday’s snowfall and yesterday, compared to the same period last year.

Air traffic to and from London Heathrow, the world’s busiest airport, came to a grinding halt earlier this week with bad weather forcing massive disruptions across Europe. But just in time for Christmas, the snow seems to be clearing out, with approximately 900 flights operated at Heathrow on Wednesday. All departures to the UAE, including those of British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia that were cancelled on Wednesday have resumed. A total of 19 flights departing from LHR to Dubai and 13 from LHR to Abu Dhabi, are scheduled to be on time today.

However 9 of the 20 flights departing from Dubai to LHR remain cancelled. They include 2 each of British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia and one each of Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines and BMI that were scheduled to depart at 10.00 am. All 13 departures from Abu Dhabi are on schedule so far.

A report in The Independent says British Airways had decided to cancel 150 flights on the basis of what it says turned out to be misleading guidance from the airport operator about when the second runway would reopen. According to it, almost a third of the 1,300 flights that pass through Heathrow on an average day were cancelled on Wednesday with other airports taking up the additional burden – London Gatwick operating at 115% capacity and taking on 70 extra flights.

British Airways alone had cancelled 2,000 flights and diverted 40 fully-laden planes over the past 6 days costing the airline up to £40m in lost profits it added. Meanwhile Heathrow Airport officials were hopeful yesterday of restoring all the cancelled services. A message on its website says, “Heathrow is open and most flights will operate today.”

Efforts are on to clear the airport of stranded passengers. Airport officials are advising passengers to check the status of their flight with the airlines before heading to the airport. “We don’t have any information yet on what flights each of our 90 airlines will operate on Friday but check your airline’s website,” said an update on its twitter feed.

Airports across Europe remain in chill, with forecast of fresh snow putting a spanner in restoration of services. On top of that, forecasts of fresh snow in parts of Europe threaten to prolong chaos caused by the cold snap. In its latest advice to passengers, Emirates said “All of Emirates’ 6 gateway airports in the UK are open and both runways at London Heathrow are operational. The airline’s flights in and out of the UK, as well as our other European destinations, are operating as close to schedule as possible. Weather conditions remain unsettled and passengers are reminded that flights may still be affected.”

Meanwhile France has let the 2 main airports in Paris, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, to remain open around the clock in an effort to clear the backlog of delayed flights. According to reports quoting Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, the financial impact of snowfall and other weather-related disturbances on Air France-KLM is estimated to be around 35 million euros (S$60.1 million) just this month alone.

Around 1,000 passengers woke up in the terminals at Heathrow, the world’s busiest international passenger airport, which has slimmed down its schedule in a bid to manage the situation. Airlines were told what capacity was available and they themselves decided which flights to cut, with both long-haul and short-haul services scrapped.

While rail services across Europe were also affected, the situation was improving on the Eurostar, which operates high-speed passenger trains linking London with Paris and Brussels. Eurostar was planning to run a “near normal service” on Wednesday, with 9 trains out of 52 cancelled, and were back to accepting passengers on the services they held tickets for.

Passengers at the London St Pancras terminal reported waits of under 3 hours, a vast improvement on the kilometre-long queues witnessed in recent days.

Category: Abu Dhabi Flights, Dubai Airport Flights, Dubai International Airport, Emirates Airlines

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