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MP’s demand “put passengers first” when disruption occurs at major airports


The Transport Committee published its fourteenth report today on the disruption at Gatwick Airport, Christmas Eve 2013.  Transport executives/expert witnesses Dave Ward, Chris Burchell, Stewart Wingate, William McGillivray, Jason Hot and Peter Duffy were all called to answer questions and provide their expert opinion to ensure a repeat of the chaotic events of Christmas Eve 2013 could not occur again.
The findings of today’s report published by The Transport Committee was that far better contingency planning and preparedness must be put in place by UK airports, and by the airlines that use them if the UK is to prevent the kind of chaos that unfolded at Gatwick Airport on Christmas Eve 2013.  
In the early hours of Christmas Eve the basement of the North Terminal at Gatwick Airport flooded, causing some electrical systems to fail. As a result, 72 of the 260 flights due to leave Gatwick on Christmas Eve were cancelled, affecting over 11,000 passengers. Information systems did not operate and toilets were out of order.
Louise Ellman chair of the Transport Committee said today:
“Many staff at Gatwick - working for the airport, the airlines, and other operators such as the baggage handlers - worked extremely hard to keep flights operating on Christmas Eve and to look after passengers, but the problems that unfolded were not new and the whole event should be a wake-up call for airports across the UK to improve their operational resilience.
“Airports must ensure that their contingency planning is good enough to ensure that future disruption will be met with well-drilled arrangements that are familiar to airport operators, airlines, and other contractors, and which put passenger interests first.
“Passengers need accurate and consistent information, must be able to identify who is in charge during periods of disruption, and should have ready access to toilets and drinking water. If our largest airports cannot demonstrate they can look after passengers’ interests in this way then the Civil Aviation Authority must act.
“Passengers must also be promptly reimbursed for the extra costs they face as a consequence of disruption. It was clear from evidence to this inquiry that there is considerable scope for airlines to ensure passengers are far better informed about their rights when flights are delayed or cancelled and how to enforce these rights.”
Expert Witnesses Answering questions in the report were transport executives:
Dave Ward, Route Managing Director for London and South East, Network Rail, and Chris Burchell, Chairman, rail National Task Force, Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive, Gatwick Airport, William McGillivray, Product Development Director, Gatwick Airport, Jason Holt, Head of Gatwick, easy Jet, and Peter Duffy, Customer Director, easy Jet
To read the report in full and its recommendations click the link below:
Jemima Constantine – Expert Witness Today


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