The closure of airspace which began around 9am on Friday, lasted for approximately 20 minutes and resulted in at least four Heathrow-bound British Airways flights and a Virgin Atlantic flight forced to land at other airports including Luton, Gatwick and Stansted. Other flights were also delayed, resulting in planes “stacked” above Greater London waiting for airspace.
“Less than a handful of flights were diverted as a result, and continued to Heathrow shortly afterwards. We apologise to customers for the inconvenience, but this is clearly a matter beyond all airlines’ control.”
An RAF Spokesperson added: “The RAF can confirm that a flight was completed this morning by one of our assets from RAF Northolt, this flight was coordinated with Heathrow ATC but had to extend by a few minutes to complete its sortie.
“The minor delays caused to civilian air traffic are regretted. For security reasons the RAF needs to be able to operate in all airspace at all times.”
British TV producer Anne Henry was on a Virgin Atlantic flight from Los Angeles that diverted to Gatwick shortly before it was due to land at Heathrow.
She told the Mirror Online: “It was quite alarming when the captain announced after circling Heathrow for a while, ‘Ladies and gentlemen we have about five to ten minutes’ fuel left so we may need to divert to Gatwick’.
“The official line from the pilot on the tannoy has been ‘security incident’. Tough for the crew as they’ve only had one or two hours of sleep and have to keep going.”
The Boeing 787 refuelled and made its journey to Heathrow, landing almost three hours late.
Passengers were reportedly handed a letter apologising for a “security incident … which prevented us from landing there [at Heathrow] as scheduled”.
In 2019, Heathrow Airport was named one of the top 10 best airports in the world at the Skytrax World Airport Awards.
Heathrow charted at number eight, behind Munich Airport, Chubu Centrair International Airport, Hong Kong International Airport, Hamad International Airport, Incheon International Airport ,Tokyo Haneda International Airport and Singapore Changi International Airport.
The airport, which receives over 80.1 million passengers a year according to the Airports Council International, was credited for being the world’s world’s seventh-busiest airport and the largest of the five primary airports serving London.
The Skytrax World Airport Awards are described “as a quality benchmark for the world airport industry, assessing customer service and facilities across over 550 airports.”
Published at Fri, 17 Jan 2020 13:21:00 +0000