SAA catching up after weather delays

2010-12-21 11:34

SA Airways (SAA) plans to operate three flights out of South Africa on Tuesday after getting the go ahead from London’s Heathrow airport, which has had to manage delays related to heavy snow over the last few days.

“Which means, we are slowly returning back to normal,” said SAA spokesperson Fani Zulu.

Flights SA234 and SA236 out of OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and SA220 out of Cape Town were scheduled to depart today but the airline urged passengers to first confirm they were indeed booked on the flight before going to the airport.

“It’s been three days now where we had irregular operations and there might be a long waiting period before you can get confirmation.”

He said it would be a little slow clearing the backlog of the last few days, but said it was good news they could at least operate.

However, SAA’s flights out of Heathrow would be a “bit of a challenge” because one of their planes waiting at Heathrow was grounded for repairs as the freezing weather led to water in the pipes freezing and water pipes bursting.

The flight that did not leave last night, was expected to leave this morning.

Tonight SAA can only operate one plane out of London, so the backlog there will remain.

The airline was hoping it would be back to normal tomorrow.

In Germany, the airport at Frankfort is expected to reopen at noon, and SAA hoped to be able to move a plane that had been diverted to Munich, to Frankfort.

On December 18, Heathrow informed travellers that snow and adverse weather conditions had resulted in many cancelled flights and a build-up of delays.

Agence France Presse reported today that Colin Matthews, chief executive of British aviation authority BAA, apologised to people whose holiday plans had been ruined by the delays at Heathrow.

“It’s absolutely distressing and heart-breaking to have been in the terminals and confronted with individuals, each with their stories of really sad and disappointing outcomes,” he is reported to have told BBC radio news.

“I couldn’t be more sorry.”

He said they would “crawl” over what happened and might have to buy more equipment to cope with the effects of freezing weather.

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