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Gatwick Airport bosses admit they were overwhelmed by the weather
Bosses at Gatwick Airport admitted they were overwhelmed by severe weather on Christmas Eve, as regulators ask questions about the chaos.
Power outages at the airport’s North Terminal left thousands of people stranded with scores of flights cancelled.
An airport spokesman said that flooding from the River Mole into airfield substations and North Terminal was caused by heavier than forecast rainfall.
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The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is expecting the airport’s bosses to reveal exactly what caused the misery to passengers as they tried to get home for Christmas.
A spokesman said: “We need to know exactly what happened at the airport. Once we have that information we can decide if there is any further action we need to take.”
Police officers tried to calm passengers as hundreds of flights were cancelled and people were pictured cramming against the kiosks demanding information.
Passenger and newlywed Josh Newton told a national newspaper the scenes at the airport were like a “third world underdeveloped country”.
He added: “It was an absolute shambles and so embarrassing.”
A Gatwick airport spokesman said: “Extraordinarily adverse weather for the region, including exceptionally heavy rain on Monday evening, caused all localwaterways to flood, resulting in significant damage to multiple electrical substations and subsequently causing the loss of power to the North Terminal.
“The water levels and extent of the flooding experienced significantly exceeded flood impact projections.”
Budget airline easyJet, which has its main hub at Gatwick,was forced to operate Christmas Day flights from theUKfor the first time to help passengers disrupted by the power failure.
Staff at the airline volunteered to operate 14 flights to destinations including Amman, Basel and Faro.
An easyJet spokeswoman said: “Due to the power failure at London Gatwick easyJet was forced to cancel 83 flights to and from the airport on Christmas Eve. We apologise to all passengers affected and understand how frustrating and disappointing this is particularly at Christmas.
“Under challenging operating conditions easyJet’s capacity was restricted to around 10 departures per hour and we did our best to keep passengers updated.
“easyJet is committed to doing everything possible to help passengers travel home for Christmas, including operating flights on Christmas Day from the UK for the first time.
In addition staff volunteered to work to help over 2,000 customers reach their destination safely.”
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