UK heatwave: Luton airport suspends flights after runway melts in soaring temperatures

·2-min read
London Luton Airport’s runway has closed after a “surface defect” was found amid the extreme heat (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Archive)
London Luton Airport’s runway has closed after a “surface defect” was found amid the extreme heat (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Archive)

Luton Airport has suspended flights because of a defect on the runway caused by soaring temperatures during the heatwave.

The airport said that a "surface defect" had been identified on the runway as the mercury soared to 37C in the south of England on Monday afternoon.

"Following today's high temperatures, a surface defect was identified on the runway," the airport said in a statement.

"Engineers were called immediately to site and repair works are currently in progress to resume operations as soon as possible. We would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused."

The airport's website showed a number of flights after 3pm were delayed, including routes to Heraklion, Amsterdam and Faro.

It comes amid widespread disruption to public services as temperatures surpassed 38C in the south of England.

The mercury had hit 38.1C in Santon Downham, Suffolk, by 4pm, making it the hottest day of the year, and temperatures topped 37C in a number of other places.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a level 4 heat-health alert - described as an "emergency" - and the UK is under its first red extreme heat warning for a large part of England, issued by the Met Office.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the NHS had seen an uptick in the number of 999 calls during the heatwave, warning the worst may yet be to come with higher temperatures expected on Tuesday.

 (PA)
(PA)

NHS medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis praised staff as he said "the overwhelming majority of NHS services are continuing to run despite the unprecedented heatwave".

The Royal Air Force (RAF) has also halted flights in and out of its largest air base in the UK, Brize Norton.

An RAF source told Sky News that the runway had "melted".

A spokesman for the RAF said: “During this period of extreme temperature flight safety remains our top priority, so aircraft are using alternative airfields in line with a long established plan.

“This means there is no impact on RAF operations.”

Meanwhile, millions more people were working from home, heeding warnings to avoid unnecessary travel.

Network Rail confirmed train speeds would be restricted between 1pm and 8pm on Monday, which will have an impact on most routes.

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