19 Dec 2010

London airport closures disrupt thousands of travellers

10:20 pm on 19 December 2010

More than 700 Air New Zealand passengers are among the thousands of people in Britain who have had Christmas travel plans disrupted due to snow.

Heavy snow and icy conditions have closed airports across the UK and parts of mainland Europe, including Europe's busiest airport - London's Heathrow.

Heathrow Airport says there will be no flight arrivals there on Sunday and it "will only manage a handful of departures as it prepares for a full re-opening tomorrow".

NZ1, which was due to depart London at 1545 on Saturday (UK time) for Auckland, was cancelled.

About 370 passengers on NZ2 from Auckland via Los Angeles to London are stuck in Los Angeles until Heathrow Airport re-opens.

Thousands of travellers were stranded at Heathrow overnight, and hundreds at Gatwick.

A statement issued by Heathrow Airport, which saw temperatures fall to minus 5.2 degrees Celsius overnight, said it "will be not be accepting arrivals on Sunday, and will only manage a handful of departures as our airfield team continues to deal with the impacts of yesterday's bad weather and prepares the airport for a full re-opening on Monday".

The statement went on: "We are extremely sorry for the disruption this will cause to passengers and airlines and we stress that passengers must check with their airlines before travelling to the airport. We will provide regular updates."

The heavy snow and icy conditions are affecting airports right across the UK, and in Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.