As the East or West debate looms, the fragility of London’s main airport has been highlighted this week with news of cancelled flights dominating the UK media.
Heathrow is always fair game for journalists, knowing that for most readers, it could be them on their next flight. Passenger pain, in any form is therefore guaranteed to get their interest. So when something goes wrong, in this case, images of would-be passengers sleeping rough in a snow-bound airport, extensive media coverage was inevitable.
But without going into the painful details of how unprepared the airport operator was for a relatively small and well forecast scattering of snow, what’s evident here is simply a manifestation of lack of capacity. Any business running at 98.2% capacity has no resilience, a small grain of sand in the well oiled machine that is Heathrow Airport will have an immediate and disruptive effect on operations.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix in sight to provide extra capacity for the airport and worse, there is as yet not even an agreed course of action to start the process, which is why the forthcoming East or West debate on the 5th February is so crucial…
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