50,000 British Airways passengers ‘left stranded’ after sleet and ice ground flights at Heathrow

Tens of thousands of British Airways passengers have been left stranded after more than 160 of the airline’s flights from Heathrow were cancelled when the airport was left struggling with sleet and snow.

Delays started on Sunday morning (10 December) after torrential rain overnight meant planes could not be de-iced in time before take-off. This escalated into bigger queues and by the end of the morning, planes whose wings had ice removed but had been waiting too long, required further de-iceing.

By 10am, the airline cancelled 20 flights to create gaps in the schedule, but that soon doubled and the delays had a knock-on effect to other airlines such as Austrian Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa and Swiss Airlines.

Overall, more than 140 short-haul and 26 long-haul BA flights were cancelled.

With a logjam at Heathrow, incoming flights were diverted, with planes from Paris, Iceland, Finland and Athens being sent to Newcastle, while passengers from Zurich, Zagreb, Vienna, Gibraltar, Nice and Madrid went to Cardiff.

Meanwhile, long-haul inbound flights from Dubai, Mumbai and New York landed at Paris, Frankfurt and Dublin respectively, the Independent reported.

The newspaper estimated that there are 27,000 BA passengers stranded in London, 20,000 on the continent, and another 3,000 at other British airports, making it likely that it would take several days to get the schedule back on track.

BA is offering passengers booked to fly on Monday (11 December) the option to re-book on alternative flights up to Monday December 18, for free.

Source: Civil Aviation Authority, Qatar