Reply To: Should the Airlines Sue BAA plc?

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Airlines do not run the airport. Snow is most certainly not within the control of either the airlines or the airport operators. Please don’t confuse the issue.

And this was exceptional weather – most particularly in terms of the low temperatures reached, whcih were the lowest I had experienced in the UK for decades.

I think you’re right that some better regulation should be put in place force BAA to invest more in snow preparadness.

But my argument was more subtle than your assessment.

More money does need to be invested, but BAA failed at investing at the very minimum required; it simply could not meet a reasonable expectation that within 12 hours of snowfall, 50% of stands would be clear of snow and at least one runway would be operational.

Against a worsening trend of weather events, it actually reduced investment rather than increased it.

To expect BAA to invest to the level that both runways and 100% of stands would be snow-clear after 12 hours would be excessive.

So while I agree with the thrust of what you are saying, Cedric, I think it should be tempered with economic realism, and also accept that having a better snow capability would perhaps lead to – for instance – a year-round increase in the number of bussed flights. The “opportunity cost” of investment in new gates and terminals being diverted elsewhere.

It doesn’t seem unreasonable to have a better SLA in place to deal with disruption, and the calculated capacity to deal with something like 2-4 inches of snow within a twelve hour period such that most flights can operate, and be fully operational within 24 hours.

But investment to the level seen at other European airports where snow is a common occurrence simply isn’t realistic, and nor does it change the fact that much of the disruption was caused by the fact that while one runway was open a day or so after the snowfall, flights simply couldn’t land as the stand were full up, and no flights could leave because BAA didn’t have the equipment to clear the snow from underneath these aircraft to allow access for the airlines’ own de-icing and service equipment to get them moving once again.

As has been evidenced at ;ength in other threads, many other European airport were similarly banjaxed by the recent weather, and while LHR has fared worst of all, and largely through its owners failure to invest even at the miost basic rate, it is unfair to suggest a normal service could – or should – have been maintained.

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