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Tuesday, 8 February, 2000, 00:11 GMT
Stansted travel chaos eases

airport Some 100 flights were cancelled on Monday

Stansted airport is expecting a busy day on Tuesday with most flights running normally despite the presence of the hijacked Afghan plane at the airport.

By Monday afternoon nine in 10 arrivals and departures were on time, though some flights were still subject to diversions to other airports, officials said.

"We are advising passengers to check with their airlines before leaving home," said spokeswoman Lisa Tatum.

Everything is now quite calm within the terminal building and we're getting back to normal
Stansted spokeswoman
"We expect that most airlines are going to be operating normally tomorrow."

Thousands of air travellers had their plans disrupted after the hijacked plane landed at the airport at 0200 GMT on Monday. The airport was closed for several hours.

Ryanair cancelled its morning flights, and many other airlines ran reduced services.

BAA, the company which operates Stansted, brought in extra staff from Heathrow and Gatwick to help deal with the problems caused by 100 cancelled flights.

A further 60 aircraft were affected by diversions to Gatwick, Luton, Norwich and Cambridge airports during the day.

john stent John Stent: "We expect a near normal service"
Ms Tatum said Stansted had handled about 12,000 passengers on Monday - about half its normal number - because the hijacked plane had reduced the airport's runway capacity.

"The problem with this situation is that we don't know how long it's going to go on for," she added.

"But everything is now quite calm within the terminal building and we're getting back to normal.

"There are no huge delays and the flights that are departing are now more or less on time."

Negotiators are continuing to talk to the hijackers who are holding more than 150 passengers aboard the Afghan airliner.

Armed police have sealed off the area around the Boeing 727, belonging to Afghanistan's national carrier Ariana, which arrived from Moscow.

18,000 passengers departing

Airport managing director John Stent said the airport's management and staff were continuing to support the police and the emergency services in their efforts to secure a peaceful resolution to the hijack.

"Our thoughts are with the people on board that plane right now."

If the airport continued to operate in near normal fashion on Tuesday, he said he expected a very busy day, partly because of the knock-on effect from Monday.

There could be as many as 18,000 passengers departing, he said.

"There will of course be some disruption but unless the situation deteriorates we expect a near normal service tomorrow," he said, adding that the roads around the airport are now clear and trains are operating normally.

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See also:
07 Feb 00 |  UK
Stansted's hijack history

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