You are here: Home > Travel News > High winds force some flights from Europe to stop for fuel

High winds force some flights from Europe to stop for fuel

The stronger-than-normal winds led to the diversion of 43 of 1,100 flights headed to Newark and Washington’s Dulles Airport, United-Continental spokeswoman Megan McCarthy says. That’s more than three times the 12 fuel stops the airline was forced to make in December 2010.

Similar weather has led to 14 diverted flights this month.

The detours most often have been to Gander and Goose Bay in Newfoundland and Labrador, but also have included Boston.

The refueling stops tacked up to 45 minutes onto a trip, and the stiff winds could have added more to the delays, McCarthy says. “These are the most extreme winds we’ve seen in 10 years,” she says.

The planes weren’t in danger of running out of fuel, McCarthy says. “Fuel stops are well within our established safety parameters, and they were done with an ample amount of fuel on board,” she says.

Since 2001, the average headwinds encountered when returning from Europe in the month of December were 30 knots, according to United-Continental data. Last month, they averaged 47 knots, and reached as high as 60 knots on several days.

The trips all involved Boeing 757s, an aircraft that has a shorter range and holds less fuel than a larger Boeing 777. Continental, which merged with United in 2010, has long used 757s on various European routes, although United hadn’t previously used them on trans-Atlantic flights, McCarthy says.

United-Continental wasn’t the only airline to make unscheduled pit stops. US Airways diverted four trans-Atlantic flights in December and two in January. American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith says it also has made a few diversions.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it’s aware of the unscheduled stops and is looking into the issue.

Some passengers on the diverted flights haven’t been happy with an unscheduled stop.

Pascale Sabbagh of Washington says she was on a Jan. 3 Continental flight from Paris to Dulles that was sent to Gander.

“I feel cheated, because I bought a direct flight, and this wasn’t a direct flight,” says Sabbagh, who works for an international research institute.

She says many of her fellow passengers missed connecting flights and had to spend the night in Washington.

Continental’s McCarthy says the airline sometimes knows before takeoff that it will have to make a fuel stop because of winds, but other times, the need arises in the air.

As for inconvenienced passengers, she says, the airline “offers compensation as a gesture of goodwill when the circumstances warrant.”

Similar news:
    None Found

Tags: ,

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.