Storm Eunice travel chaos as London City Airport grounds all flights

High winds buffet London airports, although flights to UAE unaffected so far

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London City Airport on Friday grounded all flights until at least 4.30pm local time as record high winds from Storm Eunice prompted a slew of flight cancellations at multiple UK airports.

Nearly 400 flights in and out of the UK have been cancelled due to Storm Eunice, according to data provided to the Guardian newspaper, and all easyJet, Aer Lingus, Jet2 and Wizz Air flights in and out of London are on pause.

The aviation analytics firm, Cirium, said 261 inbound flights and 120 outbound had been cancelled as of about 3pm on Friday.

A total of 81 flights were cancelled at London Heathrow, 61 at London City airport, 38 at Manchester airport, 27 at London Gatwick and 17 at Glasgow International airport.

Watch: Planes struggle to land at Heathrow in high winds

Passengers on easyJet flight EJU8014 from Bordeaux to London Gatwick endured two aborted landings before their plane was put in a holding pattern over the south coast and then forced to return to the French city. It touched down back at its starting point more than three hours after it departed.

However, all scheduled flights to the UAE from both Gatwick and Heathrow, the UK's largest airport, were unaffected.

A Heathrow representative told The National the airport had made provisions for storm disruption.

“We have additional colleagues on hand in the terminals to support our passengers, and we are working in close collaboration with our airlines and air traffic control partners to get people safely away on their journeys as quickly as possible.

“High winds and poor weather can cause last-minute delays, but we will do everything in our power to minimise any disruption. We encourage passengers to check their flight status with their airline for the latest information.”

With flights to the Emirates customarily taking off in the afternoon, and the worst of Storm Eunice forecast to have passed in the south-east of England by this juncture, it could be that the UK-UAE route will remain largely unaffected.

However, taking off is the final piece in jigsaw and disruption to the transport infrastructure surrounding the UK's air hubs could lead to many travellers struggling to get to their destination airport.

Anyone travelling from the Isle of Wight will certainly have struggled. The UK Met Office announced that a 122 miles per hour gust of wind recorded on the island off the south coast of England may be a UK record.

London mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that Londoners should stay at home as Storm Eunice prompted the city to issue a rare Red warning, while Transport for London reminded those who were braving the storm to check for delays and cancellations before they set off.

Network Rail issues blanket no-travel directive

Rail services across the UK have been affected. National Rail imposed a uniform speed curfew of 50 miles per hour on all its trains and Network Rail issued a blanket no-travel directive.

“There is severe disruption across multiple rail lines today, so we are continuing to ask passengers not to travel and make alternative arrangements wherever possible,” said Jake Kelly, a group director at the rail body.

“Starting tonight and carrying on through the weekend we will be working round the clock to fix the damage that the storm has done to the railway, but passengers should be checking their journeys over the weekend as we carry out these repairs.”

Earlier on Friday the railway network manager also stopped all trains from running in and out of London Euston.

Felled trees like this one near Epsom in Surrey are disrupting rail services across the UK. Network Rail

Storm Eunice upends lorries and shuts QE2 Bridge

Two lorries blew over on the M4 on Friday morning as Storm Eunice ripped through Wales.

Hurricane-strength winds also forced the Second Severn Crossing to close, as they did the QE2 bridge on London's M25.

There are no rules against driving in areas where a Met Office Red weather warning has been issued, but the UK highways agency urged drivers to exercise caution.

“We’re encouraging drivers to check the latest weather and travel conditions before setting off on journeys and consider if their journey is necessary and can be delayed until conditions improve,” said Jeremy Phillips, National Highways' head of road safety.

A Storm Eunice-toppled toppled lorry on the M4 motorway near Margam in south Wales. AFP

“If you do intend to travel, then plan your trip and take extra care, allowing more time for your journey.

“In high winds, there’s a particular risk to lorries, caravans and motorbikes, so we’d advise drivers of these vehicles to slow down.

“Drivers of other vehicles should be aware of sudden gusts of wind which can affect handling and braking, and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, and motorbikes plenty of space.

“In the event of persistent high winds we may need to close bridges to traffic for a period, so please be alert for warnings of closures and follow signed diversion routes.”

Storm Eunice shuts Port of Dover

Maritime transport has not escaped Storm Eunice's wrath.

The Port of Dover announced it was temporarily closing “in the interests of customer and staff safety”.

P&O Ferries suspended all sailings between Dover and Calais.

“All services between Dover and Calais are suspended until further notice,” the firm said in a statement.

“We expect this to be the case for most of the day and we will provide further information when possible.

“We strongly advise our customers not to travel to the Port of Dover today.”

Storm Eunice batters UK — in pictures

Updated: February 18, 2022, 4:49 PM
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