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BAA response to snow 'ineffective'

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BAA was not well prepared to deal with the impact of last year's pre-Christmas snow, a study has said.

The report into the December 2010 travel chaos said the airport operator's 'ineffective' response caused distress to passengers, many of whom had to pay unnecessary and high travel insurance premiums to cover the losses incurred.

Passengers and airlines also faced difficulties because of 'insufficient stock of critical supplies', the BAA-commissioned report added.

The reason for this was because the full effects of the weather forecast were not taken into consideration before the country faced a heavy bout of snowfall on December 18.

Ground staff took a longer time to clear snow off aircraft stands because of earlier aircraft de-icing and stand gritting.

Clearing under-aircraft stands proved to be more difficult as BAA lacked the technology to carry out the process.

The study suggests Heathrow should adopt a winter resilience target, stating the airport will not close if it can tackle the problems it encounters along the way, except in cases which call for immediate safety.

BAA said it has accepted the report and was developing a £50 million resilience investment plan.

© Press Association 2011