London’s Stansted and Luton airports were closed this morning and road, rail and subway journeys disrupted as the first significant snows of the winter hit southern Britain.
Stansted, the No. 1 base for Ryanair Holdings Plc, shut for at least two hours beginning at 6 a.m., causing flights to be cancelled during the peak time for morning departures. Luton’s runway was closed for an hour starting 6:40 a.m. and services at both locations remain affected by the backlog of planes.
“There will be a knock on effect from the closure this morning,” said Melvyn Nice, a spokesman for Stansted owner Heathrow Airport Ltd. Passengers should call airlines to check their flight’s status and leave extra time for travel, he said.
Dublin-based Ryanair, Europe’s top discount carrier, said by e-mail that all morning flights from the two London airports would be affected, adding that Stansted was likely to reopen at 10 a.m. and that Luton was open “but with limited movements.”
While there were delays at Luton, the headquarters of EasyJet Plc, Britain’s biggest low-cost airline, a spokesman said there have been no cancellations at the airport, which is located in the Chiltern hills northwest of London.
“The runway was shut during the peak rush hour but the closure was fairly short so we should get through the backlog quite quickly,” said David Roach, a spokesman for London Luton Airport Ltd.
On London’s Tube, five out of thirteen routes suffered delays during the morning commute. The website of Transport for London, which runs the subway network, reported delays on northern reaches of the Metropolitan line in the Chilterns “while we deal with snow and ice on the track.”
Snowfalls were heaviest to the north of London, where Stansted is located, with flights due to land there diverted to Gatwick airport, almost 60 miles to the south. London Heathrow, Europe’s busiest hub, isn’t currently affected by the adverse weather, spokeswoman Lizzie Bysshe said.
The U.K.’s Met Office issued a Level 3 Cold Weather Action alert, meaning that there’s a 90 percent probability of cold weather including overnight frosts and ice through Dec. 9.
“Wintry showers will lead to some snow accumulations in places,” the national weather service said on its website. “Wednesday night will be particularly cold with a widespread, sharp frost.”