Flights from Luton were temporarily suspended yesterday after the extreme heat caused a section of the airport’s runway to buckle. Passengers were made to wait in the hot departure lounge whilst engineers worked to repair the broken tarmac.

Temperatures in the UK are set to reach record highs this week, prompting the Met Office to issue a red extreme heat warning. London saw highs of 37 degrees on Monday, close to the hottest temperature ever recorded in the UK, 38.7 degrees. Tuesday is said to be even hotter, with possible highs of 41 degrees predicted.

The heat was so extreme that it caused a section of Luton’s runway to peel away from the ground. A statement posted to Luton’s Twitter account at 16:22 reads:

“Following today’s high temperatures, a surface defect was identified on the runway. Engineers were called immediately to site, and repair works are currently in progress to resume operations as soon as possible. We would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

Flights Diverted from Luton

Closure of the airport’s single runway meant that flights were temporarily grounded “to allow for an essential runway repair,” said a spokesperson for the airport. Additionally, at least 14 inbound flights had to redirect whilst runway staff worked to resolve the issue

Luton Airport runway melts heat
Ground staff work to repair the runway | BBC

EasyJet reported that three inbound flights to Luton had been diverted to nearby airports, while their flights to and from Belfast, Palma and Milan were “unfortunately unable to operate”. Low-cost rival Ryanair stated that none of its flights had been cancelled, however, a small number had been diverted to Stansted. Meanwhile, Wizz Air flights from Budapest and Tirana were redirected to Gatwick.

The airport said that departing flights were resumed at 17:40, with inbound flights resuming 15 minutes later. Operations at the London hub have since returned to normal.

Higher Temperatures Forecast this Week

Luton wasn’t the only airport that faced tarmac troubles on Monday. Britain’s largest RAF base, Brize Norton, also paused operations after reporting its “runway has melted”. With the Met Office predicting higher temperatures this week, airports could face even more operational challenges.

“We hoped we wouldn’t get to this situation, but for the first time ever, we are forecasting greater than 40C in the UK,” said Dr. Nikos Christidis, a scientist with the Met Office, adding:

“Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in the UK. The chances of seeing 40C days in the UK could be as much as ten times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence,”

Has your journey been affected by the heatwave? Let us know in the comments below!

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