Tempers fray as Heathrow flights stay grounded

Several flights from London to SA are grounded due to severe weather conditions at Heathrow Airport.

Monitors show cancelled and delayed flights at a London Heathrow airport terminal. Picture: AFP

LONDON - Several flights from London to South Africa were on Friday and Saturday grounded due to severe weather conditions at Heathrow Airport.

British Airways apologised, as thousands of its passengers were stuck on planes waiting to take off, as freezing weather caused ice on runways.

The delay, which affected all airlines using the United Kingdom's busiest hub, is expected to continue.

Heathrow Airport normally operates 42 landings and take-offs each hour.

But with heavy snow and poor visibility, air traffic controllers reduced this by almost a half on average - more than 400 flights were cancelled

Long-haul flights have been given preference, but delays for some have been lengthy.

Passengers were yesterday told to get onto aircrafts so each plane was ready to take any available landing slot within seconds, but it led to frayed tempers and some passengers were eventually told to get off again.

All airlines were on Saturday struggling to mop-up the backlog.

With more bad weather expected on Sunday, the problem could stretch well into next week.