The cyclone "Dirk" hit Gatwick airport hard
The cyclone DIRK, which brought record low pressure values, caused major air travel disruptions, particularly at Gatwick.
It was, of course, Murphy's law that made this storm arrive just at the time when lots of people wanted to leave the UK: some to find the warmth, others to come to ski in Switzerland or France. To make things worse, it was probably the cause of flooding which put Gatwick airport's North terminal out of use on Christmas Eve.
The effects of problems at Gatwick particularly affect easyJet, which uses the airport extensively, including bringing very many skiers to Geneva. On Christmas Eve, only one of 5 planned easyJet flights actually made it to Geneva, plus one of the two flights of British Airways. Another couple of easyJet aircraft also came back empty, because the chaos at Gatwick made it impossible to check passengers in at just the South terminal.
As usual, when things go wrong, staff seem to be overwhelmed. The BBC report on the Gatwick problems was particularly severe on the handling of the problems. They referred to passengers waiting almost the whole day and not being informed of what was happening, to airline staff overwhelmed (or absent) and to information screens just not working. Things were made worse because the rail traffic to and from the airport was affected by the high winds, with many trains cancelled.
This is the second severe storm recently to affect southern Britain, northern France and Germany. It brought the barometric pressure down to as low as 927 mb, which is pretty close to the record lows going back for well over a century. It is difficult not to wonder if this is (yet) another effect of Global Warming, in particular the rise in sea temperature. If so, and given that air travel is becoming a more and more important factor in this, it is ironic that air travel is being hit hard.
Local reports, however, tell me that at least one flight on Christmas Eve was unaffected by this storm. Father Christmas and his sleigh team, led by Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, appear to have come and gone from the North Pole as usual.
Merry Christmas, kids.