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Thu 23 Dec 2010 11:28 AM

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Gulf's expat workers face struggle to return home for Christmas

British Airways lashes out at Heathrow for scrapped flights, several services cancelled today

Gulf's expat workers face struggle to return home for Christmas
Heathrow airport ice weather conditions
Gulf's expat workers face struggle to return home for Christmas
British Airways Heathrow snow, weather, ice
Gulf's expat workers face struggle to return home for Christmas
Heathrow, passengers, snow, severe weather

British Airways has defended the cancellation of several of its long-haul services – including several flights from the Middle East – claiming that 40 of its fully loaded long-haul aircraft had been diverted to airports across Europe during the recent winter chaos.

“We typically spend six weeks pulling together the complex Christmas rosters for our 14,000 cabin crew and more than 3,000 pilots,” said British Airways CEO Willie Walsh in a company statement.

“Those 17,000 rosters are like a giant global jigsaw puzzle, which has been torn up by the days of disruption at Heathrow and around the world. We now have around a day to rebuild those rosters, so that we get the maximum number of flights into the air ahead of Christmas.”

British Airways has also blamed the British Airports Authority (BAA) – the agency that runs Heathrow – for providing misleading advice about when the second runway would reopen. That decision, the carrier said, had cost it around 150 cancelled flights.

The airline said that the full long-haul schedule of departures from Heathrow would recommence today. 

The move is a little late for some Gulf expats, who have complained of a lack of information from British Airways about the cancellations.

However, many have been able to rebook seats on Emirates, Etihad or Qatar Airways flights, which have been flying as per usual for several days now.

British Airways has already cancelled two of its three flights to Heathrow, with only BA0104 – which leaves at 1530 UAE time – departing as scheduled. However, the British flag-carrier will provide its full service on Friday.

The airline’s Muscat-Doha-Heathrow service has also been cancelled today, although it will be operational tomorrow.

Virgin Atlantic has also cancelled its only service from Dubai for Thursday, although it will offer a flight tomorrow.

Elsewhere, American Airlines, Iberia, Singapore Airlines and BMI have also each cut a service from Dubai to Heathrow.

Emirates will operate its usual 10 flights to four UK gateways today. Etihad will provide four flights to the country.

British Airways, which has nearly half the landing slots at Heathrow, has cancelled 2,000 flights in the last week. The conditions are believed to have cost the airline around $62m.


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Mr Goin Nowere 8 years ago

Comon BA pull yourself together. You knew Xmas is the busiest time of the year and same thing happened last year (Volcanic Ash, bad weather etc...). some serious incompetence taking place here. BAA boss refused to take his bonus of GBP950,000? You mean he was going to get a bonus after all this mess?

Well done to the Middle East airliners for putting pressure on the airports. Russia has been dealing with snowy/icy conditions over 20yrs.

Lana Khoury 8 years ago

Totally agree. Might sympathise with BA if they'd treated their customers with a little kindness. But they weren't taking customer phone calls from Saturday until lunchtime yesterday. My husband was booked on a flight on Sunday to visit his sick mother in North Africa. The flight was cancelled the evening before. We waited, bags packed, for news. BA's website would not let him reschedule his flight. Nobody answered the phones. Yesterday, my husband spoke to an actual BA person, who said that even though the flight in question will resume on Christmas Eve, my husband cannot fly then nor the next day. Only stranded passengers will fly. No choice but to cancel his trip. True, London Heathrow was pathetically ill-equipped to cope. But BA has treated its customers like so many pieces of baggage. Nobody should get any bonus. A pay cut would be a fairer reflection of company performance.

jonjo 8 years ago

BA is not "the British flag-carrier" - it was privatised in 1987. That's the year after the British Airports Authority was scrapped so now there is no such thing. >BAA is owned by a Spanish company - Grupo Ferrovial so blame Spanish practices.