Wintry conditions in the south-east of England meant the traditional cold war between Heathrow and Gatwick airports was in full swing in January. For those unfamiliar with this annual tussle, it’s the one where the two flight hubs do battle to see who can cope better in the face of meteorological adversity.
If the news headlines were anything to go by, Heathrow – despite spending a reported £36 million (€42 million; $57 million) on snow clearing equipment since harsh snowfall in 2010 – was quickly up against the ropes. “Snow disruption: Heathrow boss ‘sorry’ over cancellations” reported BBC News. “Heathrow bosses’ failure to act on snow warnings blamed for chaos” bemoaned the London Evening Standard.
While Heathrow was forced into drawing up a growing list of cancellations, Gatwick reportedly suffered only minor delays. A godsend, of course, for the Global Infrastructure Partners-owned airport.
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate did not miss the opportunity to put the (snow)boot in. “I am proposing that for December, January and February, Heathrow declares a level of capacity it can cope with in winter conditions,” he said. “Additional flights for those three months can then move to Gatwick and Stansted.”