Heathrow Airport Operator BAA Airports Ltd. enters Business Execution Hall of Shame

Heathrow Airport travelers are suffering horribly as a result of some bad weather this past weekend. This has negatively impacted the holidays for tens of thousands of people.  London Heathrow is the world’s largest airport hub.


  • The airport received 3.5 inches of snow this past Saturday.  [Chicago O’Hare and Boston would consider this a “dusting of snow.”] Cold and ice that followed have snarled airport operations for days.
  • Until December 23rd at 6 a.m. local time, Heathrow will operate only 1/3 of scheduled flights.
  • Heathrow canceled 752 flights–389 arrivals and 363 departures (58%)—on Tuesday out of 1300 flights planned for that day.
  • Gatwick airport canceled only 50 out of 695 (7%) flights scheduled on Tuesday.
  • Since the snow storm on Saturday, Heathrow has canceled 3200 flights (60% of the total) whereas Gatwick as canceled 25% of its flights.
  • Heathrow had 100 contractors clearing snow; Gatwick had 140 contractors working around the clock
  • Heathrow’s second main runway remained closed all day Tuesday
  • The airport’s operator declined an offer of assistance from the military to help with snow and ice removal.


  • Heathrow operates at nearly full capacity making it difficult to clear the snow. [Really?]
  • Planes froze to their parking stands—special equipment was required to free the aircraft.
  • This is the coldest December on record in the southern U.K.—they are not used to such conditions.

While there is little that can be done to prevent weather events, BAA Airports has shown little imagination  in getting the airport back to normal operations.

BAA does not have a sense of urgency expected for a world travel hub to get flight operations back to normal.

BAA did not have contingency plans or resources in place for a relatively minor weather event that ensued creating horrible implications for people traveling through Heathrow.  The weather event is a smoke screen for a massive business execution failure.

I fervently hope that all who have been inconvenienced by this debacle will reach their destinations in time to celebrate the holidays.

For business execution failures and the disruptions to holiday travel of tens of thousands of people, the airport operator, Ferrovial SA’s BAA Airports Ltd., is entered into Gardner & Associates Consulting’s Business Execution Hall of Shame.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2010 Gardner & Associates Consulting All Rights Reserved


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