Flights briefly suspended at London airport after runway damaged during heat wave

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Ryanair planes are seen at Luton Airport as the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world London, Britain, March 17, 2020. Peter Cziborra | Reuters

Extreme heat in 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 effects on infrastructure of extreme 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.

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

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

“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,” an RAF spokesperson said. “This means there is no 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 is monitoring the impact of the heat and is so far operating normally. Gatwick Airport outside London also said it has not identified any runway problems due to heat.

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