Britain is considering new laws to fine airport operators if passengers' journeys are disrupted due to poor planning, it was announced Monday, Dec. 27.
The snowstorm of Dec. 18 grounded flights across Britain and Northern Europe. London's Heathrow was one of the worst hit, with passengers forced to sleep at the airport for days while they suffered numerous cancellations and delays.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said managers at Heathrow had badly underestimated how much de-icing fluid they would need.
Any new laws could see the biggest airport operators granted licences that they risk losing if they fail to cope with emergencies such as extreme weather, Hammond said in an interview with the Sunday Times.
An inquiry also has been launched by BAA at Heathrow to look into "what went wrong" and the airport's ability to prepare and respond more effectively to periods of bad weather. The panel of experts from other airports and airlines will judge BAA's "planning, execution, and recovery."
One of the central issues for stranded passengers was the lack of information. Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said he understood passengers' frustration. "Whilst people are obviously deeply upset about the inconvenience, particularly at this time of year, at having their travel plans disrupted, most of what I am hearing is a sense of outrage about the way they were then treated when they were stranded at Heathrow Airport," he told the BBC.