Heathrow airport has warned of the potential for significant delays because one of the airport’s two runways suffered a “surface failure” on Friday morning. Several flights due to arrive at Heathrow were forced to divert to other airports including Stansted and Gatwick, while others were delayed.
According to data provided by OAG, the West London airport is currently the 5th busiest in the world but it was forced to operate with just a single runway “overnight complications” during engineering works on the Northern Runway.
Insiders claim routine resurfacing works took place on the Northern Runway on Thursday night but a heatwave meant the outside temperature remained so high that the tarmac didn’t set in time for the resumption of flights on Friday.
During the morning peak for arriving flights, some services were forced to divert to alternative airports. The disruption could stretch on for several hours but Heathrow now says both runways are operational and Friday’s flight schedule can continue as planned.
During the pandemic, air traffic at Heathrow was so quiet that the airport routinely operated with a single runway. Since travel restrictions were lifted, both runways are in near constant use during operating hours, although Heathrow has a nighttime flight curfew.
Heathrow has had a torrid few days after announcing it would impose an artificial passenger capacity cap on airlines because it didn’t have the staff or resources to deal with predicted passenger numbers.
The Dubai-based aviation giant Emirates blasted the airport over the decision, announcing that it would refuse to comply with the request despite facing the threat of legal action.
In a writhing assessment of Heathrow’s ability to operate, the airline said problems at the airport were down to its own “incompetence” and that management is “cavalier about travellers and their airline customers”.
Commenting on the runway surface failure, a Heathrow spokesperson said: “Both our runways are now in regular operation. For a brief period this morning, we were on single runway operations but this has now ended.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.