Airlines to Cancel Flights as Britain Braces for Major Storm
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Most parts of Britain were bracing for a storm that will bring hurricane-force winds, heavy rain, and severe flooding starting late Sunday, and airlines and travelers were preparing for significant delays and cancellations. The storm, named after St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes whose feast day is Monday, is said to be the worst perhaps in 25 years.
British Prime Minister David Cameron urged Britons to prepare for what the U.K.’s Met Office said “isn’t a storm you would see every year.” After holding an emergency planning conference call, Cameron tweeted that he had done so “to ensure people are protected.”
The Met Office is forecasting winds of up to 80 mph (129 km/h) across the coastal, southern half of the country. Widespread structural damage is also expected.
The Met Office issued “amber” warnings for the storm, its second highest level, for strong winds impacting the southern half of Wales, the Midlands, and southern England. Winds of up to 100 mph (160 km/h) are expected along the south coast of England, the Channel Islands, Brest peninsula, and around Calais.
European meteorologists have dubbed the storm “Christian.”
Although the storm is expected to result in a significant number of flight cancellations and delays, only a handful of flights have been cancelled as of 5 p.m. Sunday evening in the U.K. London’s Heathrow Airport, Europe’s biggest aviation hub, is expecting the storm to impact flights. The storm is “likely to cause disruption to flights including cancellations,” the airport said in a statement posted on its website. At 7 p.m., Heathrow called on airlines to reduce the number of flights between 6 a.m. and 11 by 20%. Airlines were asked to reduce flights between 11 am. and 4 p.m. by 10% and between 4 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. by 5%.
The storm is expected to disrupt road and rail travel as well.
Shortly after 7 p.m. in London, British Airways, the nation’s flag carrier, announced it was cancelling flights in accordance with instructions from Heathrow. Impacted flights were from the airline’s European and domestic networks and no long-haul flights into and out of Heathrow were scheduled to operate as normal, although there is the potential of delays due to the storm. The airline apologized “in advance for the inconvenience caused by the poor weather.” Other airlines flying in and out of the U.K. followed suit.
UPDATE 1 – OCTOBER 27, 2013 AT 2:40 P.M.
An earlier version of this article that London’s Heathrow airport had not yet instructed airlines to cancel flights. In addition, British Airways had not yet announced planned cancellations for Monday. The article has been updated to reflect both announcements.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)