Travel Warnings, Cancellations, Delays for Heathrow, Schiphol As Storm Barrels Towards Britain

By Paul Riegler on 27 October 2013
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London Heathrow from the air

London Heathrow from the air

The hurricane-force storm barreling towards Britain is expected to make landfall during rush hour Monday morning, according to the Met Office, the U.K.’s official weather forecasting agency.  Meanwhile, storms with heavy winds are expected to hit parts of the Netherlands around the same time, the Dutch Meteorological Institute said.  The storm will hit Wales and South West England first.

Forecasters were warning that the storm, dubbed “St. Jude” after the patron saint of lost causes whose feast day is Monday, will disrupt road, rail, and airport networks when it strikes.  It is already being compared to a 1987 storm that killed 18 people in Britain and felled over 15 million trees.

The storm, which is expected to bring 80 mph (129 km/h) winds and heavy rain to the region, will also impact the Netherlands Monday.  Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, one of the busiest on the continent, said on its website that the storm “may cause delays or cancellations.”  The country’s national railway, Nederland’s Spoorwegen, said that train service could be disrupted.

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%.

By 2 a.m. in London, 54 arrivals and 52 departures had already been cancelled at Heathrow, and 34 arrivals and 41 departures had been cancelled at Schiphol according to Flightstats, a flight tracking service.  British Airways had cancelled a total of 64 flights at that time, while KLM (including KLM Cityhopper) had cancelled 73.

Operations at London Gatwick and London City airports were expected to be normal according to statements on their respective websites, although this was subject to change and London Gatwick advised passengers to check with their airlines for flight status.  Trains running to and from Gatwick in the early morning hours were cancelled.

The Eurostar said it will not be running Cross-Channel trains until 7 a.m. Monday morning and that the first trains will be subject to delays due to a 50 mph (80 km/h) speed restriction in the U.K.

Transport for London said that service on the Overground line will not run until 9 am. on Monday although Underground lines are expected to run as normal.

British Airways, in a statement on its website, said 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.  Other airlines were making similar changes in their schedules.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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