London flights delayed and cancelled

Passengers trying to get to Britain from Sweden in time for Christmas were facing severe disruption on Thursday, with delays and cancellations on both British Airways and SAS flights due to thick fog at UK airports.

Flights to London Heathrow were the worst hit, with two out of six BA flights from Stockholm Arlanda cancelled on Thursday. SAS was also facing problems, with its departures to the British capital severely delayed. A flight due to leave just after 2pm on Thursday did not end up leaving until after 6pm.

No Ryanair flights have so far been reported delayed, and SAS flights from Gothenburg to Heathrow were running on schedule. Copenhagen Airport departure boards were showing only short delays to BA departures.

Jan Lindqvist at Swedish airport operator LFV said that passengers should check before setting out for the airport.

“Passengers can look at our website or that of their airline. We usually say people should contact their airline to see if there is any further information and if they are expected to show up at the airport.”

Neither LFV or British Airways representatives at Arlanda had heard on Thursday evening how flights were expected to be running on Friday.

A British Airways booking clerk who spoke to The Local said the 1855 flight on Thursday was due to leave at 2058. She said that passengers from the two cancelled flights were being rebooked “as best we can,” but said they could not be guaranteed flights that suited them.

“We’re talking about hundreds of passengers.”

The flights worst affected by the fog were BA services to and from London Heathrow. All UK domestic flights, as well as all services to Paris and Brussels were cancelled. BA said on Thursday evening that the same flights would be axed on Friday. Some 40,000 people were hit by the delays and cancellations.

London Gatwick was also affected by the fog, as were Manchester, Gatwick and Glasgow.

The fog is causing delays not because of poor visibility when in the air, but because of difficulties when taxiing. While landing can be carried out on autopilot, directing the plane on the ground is a job for the pilot. Controllers need to leave extra space for planes when there is thick fog.

While this does not cause much of a problem at smaller airports, it can cause difficulties at busy airports like Heathrow. Jan Lindqvist said that there were currently low clouds at Arlanda. They were not currently affecting flights, he said, but added that staff were hoping they would soon lift.