Four reasons why London's Heathrow Airport faltered under snow

London's Heathrow Airport, one of the world's busiest, is getting back on its feet after winter storms led to massive delays and left more than 100,000 travelers stranded. Even though flights are resuming, the backlog means that it will be at least another day before the flight schedule returns to normal. Finger-pointing for the delays abound and the chief executive of BAA, the company that operates Heathrow, said he will not take his annual bonus due to the mess. Is he to blame? What else could be the cause?

Overcrowded flight schedule

Alastair Grant/AP
Passengers queue outside Terminal 3, to have their boarding passes checked as disruption continues due to bad weather leading to the cancellation of some flights at London's Heathrow Airport, Wednesday, Dec., 22.

Even though airport officials knew the bad weather was coming, Heathrow did not trim its Saturday flight schedule.

British Transport Secretary Philip Hammond told Parliament that BAA, which runs Heathrow, said that it should have cut the number of flights coming in and out of the airport Saturday to have been fewer aircraft stuck when the snow began falling, the Guardian reported.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Heathrow typically operates at 98 percent capacity, which leaves a narrow window for runway clearings, even under normal circumstances. When delays stack up like they have this week, the domino effect is severe and fast.

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