Gatwick Airport chaos on Christmas Eve should be 'wake-up call' says report

More than 11,000 travellers were affected by delays and cancellations on December 24 (Pic: PA)

More than 11,000 travellers were affected by delays and cancellations on December 24 (Pic: PA)

First published in News

The Christmas Eve chaos at Gatwick Airport should be "a wake-up call for airports across the UK", a damning report from MPs has said.

More than 11,000 travellers were affected by delays and cancellations on December 24 after flooding caused a power failure at the airport.

The report into the problems, released today (Friday) by the House of Commons Transport Committee, found a string of failures from airport staff.

Among the issues were poor and often inconsistent information about what was happening and a lack of clarity about who was in charge.


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Complaints were also made about the lack of basic facilities, such as toilets and drinking water and confusion about what expenses passengers could be reimbursed for, particularly if alternative flights were arranged.

The committee's report said: "The problems at Gatwick at Christmas Eve should be a wake-up call for airports across the UK to get on top of operational resilience issues.

"Disruption of whatever nature should be met with well-drilled plans, familiar to airport operators, airlines, and other contractors, which put passenger interests first."

The committee said there was a wider problem "with complex EU legislation on passenger rights to compensation when flights are delayed or cancelled".

The report recommended the Civil Aviation Authority brings forward proposals for improving the provision of information to passengers about their rights at times of disruption.

It added: “We also recommend that the Government push for amendment to the proposed new EU regulation on this issue to include electronic means of alert and information dissemination.”

The committee welcomed the decision from Gatwick bosses to appoint passenger champions at each of its terminals, to focus on passenger welfare. They recommended other airports should do the same.

London Gatwick spokesperson said: “Gatwick welcomes the Transport Select Committee’s report and fully accepts its recommendations.

“Following the events of Christmas Eve, Gatwick set aside a £30 million resilience fund and immediately began projects to strengthen flood defences.

“In partnership with its airlines, extensive work has already been undertaken to improve contingency plans and passenger welfare in times of disruption.

“It is now important to focus on the future and today’s report coupled with David McMillan’s accepted recommendations will help ensure the entire airport community makes the improvements required.”

Comments (1)

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8:33am Fri 11 Apr 14

9 of us says...

Difficult situation to manage on Xmas Eve.

11k + pax in terminals as a result of a power failure. Do you announce that the airport will be close until the situation is fixed and send them all home or do you keep them there until the power is back on. Pax on Xmas Eve want to fly out.
Announce and promulgate to all in the airport what has happened and give them a choice. To commit to a resolution time if you do not have the correct information will prove problamtic and is also unfair to pax.
EU Law protects pax rights when airlines are at fault, be it tech issues or delays, but I am unclear as to what EU law states about airport failure, not the airline itself.
I assume with no power, the ability to communicate is challenging in any circumstances.
Difficult situation to manage on Xmas Eve. 11k + pax in terminals as a result of a power failure. Do you announce that the airport will be close until the situation is fixed and send them all home or do you keep them there until the power is back on. Pax on Xmas Eve want to fly out. Announce and promulgate to all in the airport what has happened and give them a choice. To commit to a resolution time if you do not have the correct information will prove problamtic and is also unfair to pax. EU Law protects pax rights when airlines are at fault, be it tech issues or delays, but I am unclear as to what EU law states about airport failure, not the airline itself. I assume with no power, the ability to communicate is challenging in any circumstances. 9 of us
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