A British Airways flight from Beijing to London was forced to divert to Athens on Sunday so that the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner could be refuelled before it could continue its journey to Heathrow as high winds caused travel chaos at the West London airport.
Of course, with a maximum range of more than 14,000 km, the Boeing 787-9 can normally reach nearly double the distance of the usual flight between Beijing and London Heathrow – even with the longer routing since the Ukraine war shut off Russian air space.
It’s understood, however, that a technical issue with the aircraft meant that the fuel tanks couldn’t be loaded to what was required to get the eight-year-old plane all the way to London, so rather than cancelling the flight, a decision was made to get the aircraft to Athens where it could be refuelled.
The aircraft landed in the Greek capital at around 5:30 pm on Sunday, where a new set of crew who were flown out from London are expected to take over and continue to journey to Heathrow.
The flight is now not expected to arrive at Heathrow until 8:45 pm on Sunday, around three and a half hours late, although air traffic control restrictions in the London area could push that arrival time back even further.
British Airways has been forced to cancel more than 40 flights as a result of the weather, which resulted in air traffic control restrictions, limiting the number of aircraft that can safely take off and land.
A British Airways spokesperson said the airline has apologised to affected customers “for the disruption to their journey.”
The airline noted that the “safety of our customers and colleagues is always our top priority”.
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.