Storm Eunice has caused tremendous damage to people and property as it ravaged the UK on Friday. 1.4 million homes were left without power. Homes and several buildings such as the o2 Arena ibn London have been damaged. In particular parts of the o2 Arena’s roof have been shredded. To make matters worse 3 people in the UK and 1 person in the Irish Republic have died and many have been injured by falling trees and flying debris. So clearly this storm which has lasted around a day has caused widespread damage as well as tragedy for some. However, what has the effect been on the aviation industry? Clearly the strong winds would have affected flights as well.
Impact on Flights
As it happens, hundreds of flights were cancelled in the UK. A number of flights at airports in London, Manchester, the Midlands and Devon have been affected. London Heathrow, London City and Manchester Airports were among the worst hit. At London City Airport all flights were cancelled up until 4:30pm on Friday afternoon. At London Heathrow a fifth of all flights were cancelled. Exeter cancelled some flights that were inbound to Exeter as well as outbound to Belfast and Edinburgh. Airlines affected include British Airways and EasyJet which have both cancelled and reduced some flights.
There have also been delays cancelations at London Gatwick Airport. Two flights had to be diverted. On one occasion, a flight from Bordeaux in France to Gatwick had two aborted landings and therefore had to return to France. Another flight, a British Airways flight from Chicago in the US to London Heathrow was diverted to Geneva in Switzerland because of the weather conditions.
The Civil Aviation Authority is reminding people that airlines have a duty of care to passengers in the event of delays. This includes providing food and drinks as well as accommodation if there is an overnight stay. It seems that this request from the Civil Aviation Authority will give airlines an opportunity to show its passengers how caring and supportive they are as airlines at times of crisis. Providing food, drink and accommodation may be costly. However, the benefits gained from increased customer loyalty would be hard to replace. It is therefore in an airlines interest to at least offer some respite for customers in order to carry them through this difficult time.
The difficulty that pilots were having in landing their planes was illustrated by Jerry Dyer an aviation enthusiast who spoke to the media. From a specially adapted van, Dyer was taking video footage of planes landing or attempting to land at Heathrow in strong winds. He was then streaming them on his BigJet TV channel. These weather conditions put even experienced pilots to the test. Whilst planes did land, many had to abort because of the difficult conditions.
As one can see, this storm as caused much issue with airlines and aviation. Flights have been cancelled, delayed or diverted causing much disruption to travellers. The danger of landing and the skills needed in this type of weather is evident to see in Jerry Dyer’s videos. However, whilst this may be captivating footage for many, the real skills pilots employed in this dangerous situation cannot be underestimated. Thankfully no serious aviation incidents have been reported. Judging by the severity of the situation elsewhere, with many buildings being damaged as well as there being deaths and injuries, it does appear that the aviation industry as a whole has fared well. We do know however that more stormy weather is on the way. We have to hope that there will be minimum damage and disruption.