UK lifts night flight curbs on ice-bound Heathrow

Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:30pm EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Monday it was relaxing night flying restrictions at London's Heathrow airport for the next four days to help it clear a backlog of flights hit by severe icy and snowy weather.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said operating hours at the airport would be extended until 1 a.m. (0100 GMT) and arrivals for repatriation flights would be allowed throughout the night.

The airport, operated by Spanish-owned BAA, told passengers not to turn up at its Terminals One and Three because of overcrowding on Monday.

"The immediate focus at Heathrow must be maximizing the number of flights with the available infrastructure," Hammond told parliament.

"In order to do this I have agreed with BAA this morning the relaxation of restrictions on night flights for the next four days."

British Airways, the largest operator out of Heathrow, said the airport would only be using one of its two runways on Tuesday -- as on Monday -- meaning the airport would be operating at significantly reduced capacity.

(Reporting by Tim Castle; editing by Peter Griffiths)