Virgin Atlantic flight 'declares emergency' over UK as Storm Franklin causes disruption

Millions of people in Britain have been warned to expect 'major disruption' to travel due to Storm Franklin

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A Virgin Atlantic flight declared an emergency while flying over Wolverhampton in the UK amid high winds, reports said, and was forced to divert to London after being prevented from landing in Manchester.

The plane was unable to touch down at Manchester Airport on Monday morning as Storm Franklin caused disruption to travel.

A Virgin Atlantic representative said the flight later landed safely at Heathrow Airport in London.

Tracking platform Airlive said Flight VS363 transmitted an emergency signal while flying over Wolverhampton, in England. Winds were said to have prevented the aircraft from touching down.

The plane had taken off from Islamabad, Pakistan, about nine hours before it was due to land.

“Due to adverse weather at Manchester Airport the VS363 from Islamabad has diverted and requested a priority landing into London Heathrow," a representative for Virgin Atlantic said. "The aircraft landed as normal and we’re working with us customers to ensure they can complete their onward journeys as quickly as possible. We’d like to apologise for the disruption caused.”

British Airways passengers had to leave Heathrow without their luggage after the airline lost bags. BA blamed high winds caused by storms for disruption to its ground-handling system at Terminal 5.

On Saturday a Virgin Atlantic flight from Islamabad to Manchester was cancelled, tracking data from FlightRadar24 showed.

Many flights scheduled for Monday have been cancelled due to the ferocious winds and heavy downpours caused by the third storm in a week.

A representative for British Airways told The National that some flights scheduled for Monday had to be cancelled due to the weather.

They said the “vast majority” of flights in and out of the UK were expected to go ahead but they “have had to cancel and delay a number of flights” due to the storms.

On Monday morning Emirates and easyJet said no flights had been cancelled.

Storm Franklin made landfall overnight days after three people were killed as Storm Eunice made its way across the country. Earlier, Storm Dudley had wreaked havoc on communities up and down the UK.

The arrival of the storms in quick succession marked the first time three named storms hit the UK since the system was introduced seven years ago.

People across the UK have been told to expect "major disruption" to travel as heavy rains and ferocious winds are expected to sweep across the country.

The Met Office issued multiple weather warnings included an amber warning for wind which could cause “travel delays, road and rail closures, power cuts and the potential risk to life and property” in Northern Ireland from midnight until 7am on Monday.

Milder yellow warnings have been imposed for wind cover England, Wales and the south-western edge of Scotland for noon until 3pm on Monday.

People in Northern Ireland are braced for delays and cancellations to rail, sea, air and road travel. Authorities warned people living in coastal areas of the dangers of large waves, falling trees and damage to power lines.

Gusts of up to 110kph were expected inland while 130kph gales forecast on the coast.

Train operator Northern has issued a “do not travel” alert to passengers due to the bad weather.

There is severe disruption on many of its routes, including between Sheffield and Manchester, Scarborough and Hull, York and Sheffield, Bradford and Leeds, Chester and Manchester, and Carlisle and Newcastle.

Northern shared a photograph on social media showing the rail line through Rotherham station in South Yorkshire completely submerged in water to the extent that the tracks are not visible. The company has been forced to cancel a number of services.

Updated: February 22, 2022, 3:15 PM