Hundreds of passengers in Ireland face disruption as a result of Aer Lingus decision to ground eight flights after London’s Heathrow Airport announced it was changing schedules to “ensure silence” during Queen Elizabeth’s funeral.
The airline said three return services between Dublin and Heathrow and one return service between Belfast City Airport and Heathrow have been cancelled because of the State ceremony in the UK on Monday.
Ryanair has not responded to queries about any changes to its scheduled flights.
In a statement to The Irish Times, Aer Lingus said “we have had to make some changes to our London Heathrow operation, resulting in the cancellation of four return flights.”
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“Due to the large number of flights we operate into London Heathrow, we have been able to re-accommodate all customers with alternative same-day Aer Lingus services, resulting in minimal disruption to their travel plans,” a spokeswoman said.
“For any customers who are due to travel to/from London Heathrow on Monday 19 September and wish to rearrange their travel plans, they can change their flight booking free of charge via aerlingus.com, our call centre and our social media channels.
“We apologise to all impacted customers for any inconvenience caused.”
The latest air travel disruption follows what were described as chaotic scenes at Dublin Airport at the weekend when Aer Lingus’ IT system crashed due to a failure on the part of a contractor, forcing the cancellation of more than 50 flights on Saturday.
The scheduled return flights being cancelled on Monday include EI160, EI165, EI168, EI169, EI176 and EI177, all between Dublin and Heathrow.
EI932 and EI935 services between Belfast City Airport and Heathrow have also been grounded.
Aer Lingus said all its scheduled flights operated on Wednesday, despite disruption at Heathrow so there was no noise in the sky as Queen Elizabth’s coffin made its way from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall in London.
In a statement, Heathrow Airport said it was making “appropriate alterations” to its operations throughout the UK’s period of national mourning “out of respect for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II”.
“To ensure silence during HMQ’s state funeral, including over Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle, there may be flight changes on Monday 19 September 2022,” it said.
“Passengers affected by this will be contacted by their airline.”
Throughout the period of national mourning “further changes can be expected at the airport” including for a one-minute silence at 8pm on Sunday and the screening of the funeral at the airport, it said.
“Non-essential shops” at the airport are also to shut on Monday, although the likes of WHSmith, Boots and Travelex as well as restaurants, cafes and pubs are expected to remain open.
“Further changes to the airport operation will be communicated in full over the coming days,” Heathrow said.