Monday, July 13, 2015

London Heathrow cancels flights due to protests over third runway

London Heathrow Airport canceled 22 flights Monday after environmental protestors from the Plane Stupid action group cut through the perimeter fence and padlocked themselves to each other.

A Heathrow spokeswoman said the canceled flights resulted in delays of up to 30 minutes for much of the day. However, some of the delays and cancellations were the result of winds at the west London airport that led to an increase in spacing between flights.

The demonstration followed this month’s announcement by the UK’s Airports Commission that it favored a third runway at Heathrow to ease the capacity shortage in the south East UK. Plane Stupid believes there must be overall reductions in the number of flights to help prevent climate change.

The protest began shortly before 0345 local time after a group of 13 protestors was detected on the airport’s northern runway. Heathrow operates restrictions on takeoffs and landings between 2330 and 0600 local time to minimize disturbance to the sleep of nearby residents.

“Both runways were operational throughout, although there have been some delays and a few cancellations—we are sorry to those passengers who experienced disruption this morning,” said Heathrow Airport in a statement. Heathrow normally handles around 1,300 movements a day.

“The safety of our passengers and the smooth running of the operation is paramount. Anyone who breaks the law and interferes with the safe operation of the airport can expect to face legal action.”

ATW understands the protestors padlocked themselves at the eastern extremity of the northern runway, with the result that most flights were able to take off with only a small reduction in available runway length. The airport’s southern runway was unaffected.

(Alan Dron - ATWOnline News)

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