ABTA has argued that this week’s snow storms have again highlighted the need for a third runway at Heathrow airport.
Following the blizzards on Sunday night, which left up to eight inches of snow in the south east, 868 inbound and outbound flights from the airport were cancelled on the Monday while on the Tuesday a further 173 flights were pulled.
It was only by Wednesday that normality returned to the airport, a situation which ABTA believes will be largely avoided in the future once the third runway has been built.
A spokesman said: “This week’s snow brings us back to the issue of capacity. Every time you have a large number of cancellations because of different issues (at Heathrow airport) you get a knock-on effect.
“Obviously if you had a third runway any backlogs could be cleared quicker.”
While the airport suffered and London’s public transport ground to a halt, many agents in the worst-hit areas battled the adverse conditions with a Gazetteers poll revealing at the time of going to press that 76% of 548 agents polled made it in to their offices.
Traveltime owner Barry Moxley, whose five shops based in the Home Counties and Oxfordshire all opened on Monday, said although footfall was down the number of calls was up.
Haslemere Travel managing director Andrew Brownrigg in Surrey said his shop opened but those staff that made it in were busy dealing with a “handful” of customers whose flights had been cancelled.
The Travel Professionals retail director Joy Ware said two out of its three shops in Surrey were closed although the phones were redirected to members of staff’s homes.
Newell’s Travel owner Roger Hawke said all 11 of his branches Devonshire and Cornish branches opened on Tuesday despite the snow falls in the south west.
However, he added: “People are worried that there’s worse to come and are staying at home. I think we can probably write this week off.”
A TUI Travel spokeswoman said “a couple” of the group’s shops were closed in the south east on Monday while “a few” were affected in Wales on Tuesday.
As Travel Weekly went to press more snow was predicted.
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