LONDON, April 11 Buy loudhailers, lawmakers told
Britain's airports on Friday, one of several suggestions to
mitigate the chaos that occurred at London's second busiest
airport, Gatwick, when the power went down last Christmas Eve.
Gatwick was left with no flight information systems or
check-in facilities on Dec. 24, 2013, after flooding caused some
electrical systems to fail.
Passengers camped on the floor for hours and complained they
received little information from staff. With one functioning
toilet and limited access to drinking water, police had to be
deployed to maintain order.
Britain's parliamentary transport committee said after an
investigation into the disruption that Gatwick and the country's
busiest airport, Heathrow, must rethink contingency plans to
look after passengers, keep them informed and ensure access to
toilets and drinking water.
Some aspects of contingency planning would be "relatively
straightfoward" to put right, the committee said in a report.
"For example, when electronic systems go down, airports
should have loudspeakers (hailers) available so that staff can
communicate with large groups of passengers," it said.
Airports and airlines should also be clearer on when flights
should be cancelled and agree in advance over how to reclaim the
cost of looking after passengers during a disruption, it said.
More than 11,000 passengers were affected by the 72 out of
260 flights that were cancelled.
"In so far as any information appeared to be available, it
came from mobile telephone conversations passengers were making
with people outside the airport," one passenger was quoted as
As part of its own review, Gatwick plans to introduce a
"passenger captain" role to take responsibility for taking care
of passengers and has set aside 30 million pounds ($50.33
million) to make improvements.
The airport, which is owned by a group of international
investment funds ultimately controlled by funds managed by a
unit of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), has been
shortlisted for a new runway for London, one of the world's
busiest transportation hubs.
($1 = 0.5961 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)