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24 December 2010

Loser: Heathrow

By Staff Blogger

“What went wrong?” That is the damning question posed by an inquiry by the airport operator BAA into Heathrow’s catastrophic handling — or rather, not handling — of the recent snowfall. Ten of thousands of passengers were stranded and hundreds forced to sleep on the airport floor, when flights were grounded last week and it emerged that Heathrow had made approximately zero preparations for extreme weather. Like the smug older sister who always gets it right, Gatwick grounded flights too but swiftly pulled itself together, and within days was operating at 115 per cent capacity and taking on 70 extra flights to pick up the slack while Heathrow floundered. As a gesture, chief executive Colin Matthews — who last year was paid around £1.1m, roughly twice the expenditure made by Heathrow on preparations for dealing with snow this winter — said he would forgo his bonus. Big of him, though perhaps cold comfort for the passengers who will be stranded over Christmas.

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