Operation at London’s Heathrow Airport are gradually coming to normal as British Airports Authority(BAA) intensifies efforts to clear off and mop up the last layer of ice formations on all the tarmacs.
Similar situations are being reported in many Airports across the country as snow attack on major European city now subsides as more than three days of snowfalls have grounded services at Airports across the counry and Europe.
Crowds are now easing gradually but delays are still very obvious as passengers surge forward to negotiate being added to valid ticket holding passengers in order to make their Christmas journey home. Those soliciting for a carry overs are those stuck by the circumstances of the snow in the past days.
The main victims in the past few days of Airports mayhems however have been overstretched staffs who have got to put up with passengers pressures and verbal attacks.
Generally however, the good news are spreading across the world that many passengers would arrive for their Christmas as more planes couild be hired by various Airlines to clear the Airport backlog.
are valid for travelling. Many of the passengers struggling to secure flights are those who have been victims of the three days of a big hitch of travelling
However, it is not certain if all the backlogs will be cleared as Christmas is only two days away with more cancellations still being reported.
Situations equally have improved on both in over-ground and underground rail services.
As at Wednesday evening, Heathrow Airport was operating at over 70per cent capacity signalling hope of a rapid improvement in the next few days.
But with Christmas just a few days away, it is unlikely the backlog will be cleared completely and many passengers may simply make it back home licking their finger in regret no to have made their journey.
Meanwhile, in an amazing sacrifice to tell the world of the determination of BAA to avoid similar occurrence in future, BAA chief executive Colin Matthews has volunteered to give up his year.s bonus approving £10m emergency fund for equipments purchase for the Airport . He taken the step as a sign of commitment to the cause of avoiding similar situation in future. The money has been put in use with many equipment already making their ways to various BAA Airports.
In order to make it possible to commence action on arresting similar situation in future, Colin Mathews has single handedly expressed his regrets tendering apologies to the world community over the organisation’s inability to handle the snow problem with ease.
He has sanctioned the amount which would be inclusive of his sacrificed allowances from his his annual bonus to forestall similar embarrassment in future, claiming it would be used for investment in snow clearing equipment at Heathrow in order to avoid in future similar situation. The snow debacle has been a major embarrassment as it has crippled Britain’s largest airport in recent days.
Matthews, who received £944,000 in basic salary and bonus last year, said he would forego his 2010 payout following a storm of criticism from politicians, airlines and hundreds of thousands of stranded passengers.
Speaking as Heathrow prepared to operate close to a full schedule tomorrow after five days of snow-related chaos, he said: “I have decided to give up my bonus for the current year. My focus is on getting people moving and rebuilding confidence in Heathrow.” Mick Rix, the GMB union’s national officer for the aviation industry, said: “For once, a British senior director has done the right thing.”
It is understood that BAA’s board rubber-stamped a £10m snow investment programme on Tuesday after Matthews acknowledged that Heathrow’s lack of equipment had been exposed by five inches of snowfall on Saturday.
The airport was forced to operate a third of its schedule for several days – affecting nearly one million travellers – as it scrambled to remove thousands of tonnes of snow that had marooned jets at aircraft stands. A BAA source said: “Colin Matthews has made £10m available and has asked the operations team at Heathrow to spend that money, or whatever it takes, to build up the resilience of Heathrow during the winter and restore passenger confidence in the airport.”
New equipment is expected to arrive as soon as tomorrow. BAA declined to comment. The £10m investment represents a twenty-fold increase on last year’s £500,000 expenditure on snow vehicles – a sum that could expose BAA to accusations of sustained under-investment in its winter preparations.
Airport sources said the 2009 programme was a “top-up” of an already sizeable fleet of snowploughs and other devices. However, a BAA source acknowledged there had been a miscalculation on the amount of equipment needed: “Clearly that additional investment was not enough.”
Despite Saturday’s snowfall lasting only an hour, BAA did not have enough resources to reopen both runways until Wednesday evening. Not all the £10m will be invested in vehicles, however, with some of money earmarked for specially trained staff to operate machines. BAA is also considering the creation of a cadre of “snow marshals” among existing staff who will be trained to operate snow clearing devices.
BAA has painstakingly rebuilt its reputation since August2006 when Heathrow ground to a halt in the wake of the liquid bomb plot. Amid mounting alarm over the scale of the damage to its image this week, senior BAA figures, including its chairman, Sir Nigel Rudd, have toured Heathrow’s crowded terminals in recent days.
BAA is controlled by Ferrovial, a Spanish conglomerate, and it is thought that the airport group’s largest shareholder will not make Matthews an immediate casualty of the snow fiasco. “He has the full support of the board,” said a source.
However, Matthews’s and BAA’s reputation rest on an unimpeded recovery with several hundred thousand passengers still hoping to pass through Heathrow by Friday. Aviation industry sources said the weatherforecasts for airports in south-east England over the next three days appeared to bode well for passengers, with some light flurries expected but no serious accumulations.
British Airways, Heathrow’s largest carrier, said it hoped to operate all long-haul flights tomorrow and on Friday including the vast majority of shorthaul flights.
Willie Walsh, British Airways chief executive, said: “I am very sorry for all the disruption and inconvenience that our customers have faced around the world in the past few days. Our teams are working around the clock to get as many people where they want to be ahead of Christmas Day and we are doing all we can to increase the number of seats available.”
Meanwhile, one of the three largest suppliers of de-icing material to UK airports warned that shortages could occur if the bad weather continues. Brotherton Esseco, whose customers include Edinburgh, Luton and Manchester airports, said an ongoing cold snap could threaten supplies.
“We are going to be restricted because of the availability of materials. If this period [of weather] is sustained it is going to be difficult,” said Roger Perry, Brotherton’s managing director.
It is understood that the government has not put direct pressure on de-icing suppliers to divert resources to Heathrow, but BAA has asked at least one supplier to “prioritise” its biggest airport in deliveries. Another major supplier, Omex, said airports were receiving orders within 12 hours and it was “very positive” about supplies.
Addition: Dan Milmo, Guardian