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Ministers to hold talks with Heathrow bosses over snow delays

Travellers were forced to sleep on floors at Heathrow. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire Travellers were forced to sleep on floors at Heathrow. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
5:56 PM

Heathrow Airport and airlines will be asked to provide an explanation over the scores of cancelled flights caused by the recent snowfall.

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Government transport spokesman Earl Attlee said disruption had been reduced “significantly” at the west London airport since 2010, but he said the issue would be investigated.

At question time in the House of Lords, he said Heathrow had implemented the 14 recommendations included in a 2011 inquiry into the airport’s resilience in a £50 million programme.

He said: “Airlines have also improved their responses to severe weather. However we are asking airlines to explain why aircraft de-icing problems occurred at Heathrow and what improvements are needed.”

And he added: “The Minister of State (Simon Burns) will be having a chat with the management of Heathrow.”

His comments came as Heathrow and British Airways came under fire from peers over the cancellations, which are continuing today.

Tory former minister Baroness Browning said: “We will have witnessed on the television the misery of passengers and of course the damage done to the UK’s reputation.”

She said it was time for “Heathrow to learn the lessons rather quickly so we do not have these annual reports after what is after all a rather modest snowfall”.

Lord Attlee said there had been “some disappointment” and that television news had not shown the “very significant” disruption at other European airports.

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