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Sun 19 Dec 2010 11:30 AM

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UPDATE 2: Flights chaos as wintry weather hits Europe's airports

Dubai's Emirates, Abu Dhabi's Etihad confirm delay of flights to London's Heathrow

UPDATE 2: Flights chaos as wintry weather hits Europe's airports
Heavy snowfall in the UK is causing misery for travellers as it was warned there would be severe disruption to all London airports. (Getty Images)

The second burst of cold weather this winter has again played havoc with Gulf airline’s schedules as sub-zero temperatures have left many of Europe’s airports closed.

Emirates Airline has announced that it will not be accepting passengers for travel to Heathrow for the next 24 hours – until roughly midday on Monday, UAE time.

The Dubai-based carrier also said that it would not operate any services from Heathrow.

“Emirates’ flights to and from other European destinations are operating as close to schedule as possible, but are dependent on the constantly changing weather conditions,” an airline spokesperson said, in a company statement.

“Emirates customers due to travel to or from Europe are advised to check the status of their flight on the Emirates website for possible changes or delays, before departing for the airport. Flight information will be updated on the website every five minutes. Emirates apologises for any inconvenience caused.”

London Heathrow will only manage a handful of departures and has announced that there will be no arrivals at the UK’s biggest airport throughout Sunday.

Elsewhere, operations at Paris’ Roissy-Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam’s Schiphol and Frankfurt airports were all affected.

The heavy snow means that Gulf expatriates trying to get home for the Christmas holiday face an uncertain wait to find out whether their flights will depart on schedule.

Etihad Airways confirmed on Sunday it has delayed all flights to London Heathrow until further notice. Its early morning flight to London, EY11, was returned to Abu Dhabi following the closure of London Heathrow.

On Saturday, the carrier's flights to London were diverted to Manchester and Frankfurt, and flights from London were delayed until further notice.

The airline said that its EY11 schedule to London today was delayed by four hours overnight, and that the EY12 return to Abu Dhabi was expected to be delayed by 2.5 hours.

In addition, the airline has cancelled its schedule to Tokyo on Sunday “due to consequential disruptions”.

Qatar Airways’ four scheduled flights to London Heathrow have all been delayed, according to the carrier’s website, as has its single flight to London Gatwick.

Royal Jordanian cancelled its flight RJ 111 to London on December 19, after being forced to divert its Amman-London flight to Brussels on Saturday after Heathrow closed to arrivals. Some 127 passengers were affected, the airline said in a statement.

On December 18, RJ diverted its Amman-London flight to Brussels. The aircraft,
carrying 127 passengers, landed at Brussels
airport waiting for an improvement of the weather condition. London Heathrow
Airport, however, had
decided on a complete closure.

British Airways’ schedule has been particularly badly affected, with the airline cancelling all short-haul flights. None of the carrier’s handful of outgoing flights from Heathrow today are destined for the Middle East.

“Due to Heathrow remaining shut, and customers experiencing extreme difficulties accessing the airport, BA has now cancelled all flights for the rest of the day,” an airline spokesperson told Arabian Business. 

“All BA flights due to depart Gatwick today are cancelled, with the exception of the BA2055 to Sharm el Sheikh.”

However, German flag-carrier Lufthansa said that although there were “massive cancellations” for domestic and European flights into and out of its Frankfurt hub, long-haul schedules had remained unaffected. 

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