Heathrow Airport has launched a “winter resilience programme” in anticipation of harsh weather, under which more than 1,400 staff and nearly 200 snow clearance vehicles will be on hand.
The strategy, put in place by Heathrow operator BAA, aims to ensure the airport is better prepared for a potential repeat of last year’s snow, which left thousands of Christmas travellers stranded.
Last year the airport ground to a halt after snow fell in thick, enduring sheets in the run-up to Christmas. Many passengers trying to get home to their families were stuck for several days, sparking vehement criticism towards the operator.
Under its new plans, 468 staff per shift will be available for snow clearance – up from 117 last year. The number of vehicles ready to clear snow have been tripled – a fleet of 185 will be available.
Up to 950 non-operational staff will be positioned in terminals to help passengers during disruption, as part of BAA’s new “reservist” role.
Unlike last year, when breakdowns in communication meant many passengers were unsure of the status of their flight, a new process for managing flight cancellations during disruption will provide passengers with more up-to-date information.
This will require collaboration between airlines, air traffic control company Nats and ACL, the body which allocates take-off and landing slots at Heathrow.
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