Snow and freezing temperatures severely disrupted airports in Germany and Britain and caused chaos and deaths on roads across Europe on Tuesday and Wednesday.
British Airways confirmed with Emirates 24|7 that the poor weather across many parts of Europe and the UK had impacted some of its flights to and from Heathrow Airport, London – the airline's main hub – but no flights from the UAE had been affected as yet.
A spokesperson with the airline said: “British Airways staff are working tirelessly to clear each aircraft of ice before their departure at Heathrow and re-plan our schedule to ensure as many customers as possible can fly to their chosen destination. We are planning to operate all longhaul services as normal at Heathrow but there may be delays due to the length of time it takes to de-ice aircraft wings.”
The spokesperson also stated that the airline was combining some shorthaul services together during the day and apologised to customers suffering delays.
The airline has advised that customers should check on ba.com for updates before leaving for the airport, and if their flight has been cancelled they can be rebooked or claim a full refund.
Earlier today, the Emirates website indicated that EK011, which departed Dubai at 2.50am and was scheduled for arrival at 7.19am at Heathrow, had been diverted to another airport. When a call was placed to the airline, a customer service representative said: “Flight EK011 is being diverted to London Gatwick airport due to weather conditions. Its estimated arrival is 11.15am UK time.”
A spokesperson from the airline said: “The UK and parts of Europe continue to be affected by snow and adverse weather conditions. London Gatwick has been closed, with all flights on December 1 being cancelled.
“Other UK airports may also be subject to closures or disruption. We advise our customers to check the status of their flight on Emirates.com before they travel as flight information is updated every five minutes. We are continuously monitoring the situation and are ready to respond should the situation change.”
Similarly, Lufthansa’s online flight status information indicated that flight LH630 from Frankfurt to Dubai was still scheduled for departure at 2.25pm Germany time, with no delay updates on its website.
Meanwhile, the status of Etihad Airways’ flight EY45 was delayed by 1.5 hours, which departed for Dublin, Ireland at 2.15am this morning, with news breaking shortly after takeoff that that flight operations at Dublin Airport were suspended following heavy snowfalls overnight.
However, an Etihad spokesperson confirmed the flight had safely landed since, saying: “Dublin Airport reopened at 7:30am (GMT) and our flight landed at 7:47am. Normal operations have resumed.”
The only other Etihad delay affected was the Abu Dhabi-Geneva flight, which arrived two hours behind schedule.
The airline stated that passenger comfort was paramount, adding: “Passengers with connecting flights on other airlines are being looked after by Etihad airport staff and staff from the connecting airlines. As the Dublin airport closure impacts all airlines operating into and out of Dublin, our guests will not be impacted with missed connections.”
Etihad also stated that North American operations were unaffected presently.
More than 200 flights were cancelled at Frankfurt airport in Germany today, the continent’s third busiest, while southern German states were blanketed by snow.
It was so cold in France that electricity network RTE warned of cuts in the supply as the country looked set to top record demand levels while 20 percent of high-speed train services to the hard hit southeast were cancelled.
Switzerland suffered its coldest November night for 45 years as temperatures plunged below minus 30 degrees Celsius, according to national weather service Meteosuisse.
Even Spain and Portugal were shivering after snow fell in the northern half of the Iberian peninsula.
London City Airport, a popular departure point for business travellers, was also forced at one point to suspend all flights because of snow and ice before resuming with a heavily interrupted service.
Edinburgh, Scotland's busiest airport, was disrupted for a second day, but London's Heathrow, one of the world's busiest airports, said all its flights were operating normally.
Passengers are already fearing a shutdown during the peak holiday period, worried that a possible Ash cloud scenario might disrupt their travel plans much like earlier this year when an Icelandic volcanic eruption had most of Europe being declared a no-fly zone for a week.
Etihad’s spokesperson, however, dismissed such a scenario, saying: “Adverse weather conditions are a regular part of operating a global airline. Weather conditions such as this do not pose the same level of risk to aircraft or services as the Volcanic Ash Cloud that took place in April – in which European air traffic controllers closed all airspace for a week.”