Flights halted out of UK air base after runway melts due to heat wave
Scorching heat in Britain led officials to shut down runways at an air base and a commercial airport in London on Monday.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) halted flights to its Brize Norton Base, located about 75 miles northwest of London in Oxfordshire, while London Luton Airport also announced it would also temporarily suspend flights.
“During this period of extreme temperature flight safety remains the RAF’s top priority, so aircraft are using alternative airfields in line with a long-established plan,” the Royal Air Force said in a statement. “This means there is no impact on RAF operations.”
Sky News reported that the runway at a separate RAF base in Lincolnshire had melted in the extreme heat last week.
At London Luton Airport, which largely serves low-cost carriers, airport officials said they identified a “surface defect” on the airport’s lone runway.
“Flights are temporarily suspended to allow for an essential runway repair after high surface temperatures caused a small section to lift,” the airport said in a statement.
Temperatures were forecasted to reach 41 degrees Celsius, or 106 degrees Fahrenheit, in parts of the country, which would break a 2019 record. British officials issued a “red extreme” heat warning for the first time in a large part of England.
Although the runway defects have only affected a small number of airports, the shakeup comes amid a turbulent moment for the airline industry.
This summer has seen a resurgence in demand for air travel, leaving airlines scrambling after cutting back on their staffing levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The situation has become particularly dire in Europe, where many workers have gone on strike and some airports have trimmed flight schedules. London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports were among some of the airports who recently asked airlines to cap their flight numbers.