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Europe

London Heathrow cancels a third of flights over snow

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-02-05

A heavy overnight snowfall forced London Heathrow airport, one of the world’s busiest hubs, to cancel 30 percent of its flights Sunday. Europe is experiencing a brutal cold snap, which has caused more than 200 deaths in the past week.

AFP - London Heathrow Airport cancelled 30 percent of its flights Sunday to cope with heavy snowfall overnight and possible freezing fog at Europe's busiest passenger air hub.

Heathrow said up to 10 centimetres (four inches) of snow were expected to fall which, without reductions to the flight schedule, would cause major disruption at the west London airport.

"We deeply regret any disruption caused to passengers by the cold weather," said Heathrow's chief operating officer Normand Boivin.

"Reducing the flight schedule means we can fly as many people as possible and return the airport to normal as quickly as possible."

The changes could affect around 400 flights.

Heathrow, the world's busiest international passenger airport, said it expected that more than 70 percent of its customers would be able to fly as airlines transfer passengers between flights.

Most of Britain was on amber alert, the Met Office national weather service's second-highest severe weather warning.

The Met Office forecast that the snow would ease over London and southeast England early Sunday, after an icy and foggy start.

Britain suffered its coldest night of the winter so far overnight Friday, with temperatures dipping to minus 12.4 degrees Celsius (9.7 degrees Fahrenheit) in South Newington in Oxfordshire, southern England.

Church Fenton in Yorkshire, northern England, recorded 16 centimetres of snow.

At the capital's other airports, London Gatwick, Britain's second busiest air hub, said all 270 of its scheduled departures got away Saturday.

London Stansted shut its runway briefly Saturday for snow clearing but said it was expecting normal flight operations Sunday.

London Luton warned passengers that departures and arrivals might be subject to delay or cancellation due to the weather.

Birmingham Airport, central England's main air hub, had to close its runway, forcing a number of flights to be cancelled or diverted as it too cleared the snow.

On the London Underground train network -- much of which runs above ground -- the weather caused the closure of the entire Jubilee Line, while parts of other lines were suspended, causing difficulties for those looking to get home after a Saturday night out.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "Across all our roads and rails, hundreds of workers are on standby to ensure that, should we receive a mega deposit of snow, we are in a position to keep the capital moving."

A string of Saturday's football fixtures were called off, as were some horse race meetings.

Date created : 2012-02-05

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