British PM offers military help for snowbound airports

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Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday he had offered to use the military to help resolve the chaos at London's snowbound Heathrow airport after thousands of passengers were stranded.

Cameron said transport minister Philip Hammond was in "intensive discussions" with the Spanish-owned British airports operator BAA about how to get the airport fully operational again.

"We've also offered military assistance to BAA," Cameron told a news conference at his official Downing Street residence.

BAA has faced heavy criticism for the continuing closure of the second runway at Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, despite the last major snowfall having been on Saturday.

Cameron said it was understandable that Heathrow had closed briefly, but added that he was "frustrated on behalf of all those affected that it's taking so long to improve."

"I can tell you now that snow ploughs are on that second runway as I speak and the second runway will be open by this evening," Cameron said.

"The people stuck there are having an incredibly difficult time, especially just a few days from Christmas, and everything must be done to either get them on holiday or get them home safely," he added.

© 2010 AFP

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