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London flights suspended after runway damaged during heat wave

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Ryanair planes are seen at Luton Airport because the variety of coronavirus cases grow all over the world London, Britain, March 17, 2020. 

Peter Cziborra | Reuters

Extreme heat within the U.K. on Monday caused runway damage and disrupted military and civilian flying, airport officials said.

A heat wave has engulfed much of Western Europe, with temperatures in London forecast to rise to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday and possibly higher on Tuesday before breaking midweek. The aviation industry is wrestling with the results on infrastructure of maximum weather including storms, floods and high temperatures.

London Luton Airport briefly suspended flights on Monday but said operations were back up Monday evening.

“Following today’s high temperatures, a surface defect was identified on the runway,” the airport tweeted, apologizing for the inconvenience.

The airport is utilized by budget carriers including easyJet, Ryanair and Wizzair.

At Brize Norton Royal Air Force base in Oxfordshire, flying was halted after an identical report of runway damage.

“During this era of hot temperature flight safety stays our top priority, so aircraft are using alternative airfields in step with an extended established plan,” an RAF spokesperson said. “This implies there isn’t any impact on RAF operations.” 

The RAF didn’t specify why it suspended flights, but a spokesperson said “the runway has not melted” as early media reports indicated.

Heathrow Airport, the country’s largest, said it’s monitoring the impact of the warmth and is thus far operating normally. Gatwick Airport outside London also said it has not identified any runway problems attributable to heat.

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