London Gatwick apologises to passengers affected by travel chaos, offers £100 in good will

Gatwick Airport (GA) has said that it is extending its sincere apologies to all passengers who were affected by the disruption on Christmas Eve.

The extremely adverse weather in the UK, including heavy rain storms, caused flooding of all waterways around Gatwick Airport. The flood waters also caused significant damage to electrical substations and switch rooms, which resulted in power supply disruption to the North Terminal.

As a result, several flights were cancelled and others were subject to significant delays causing considerable inconvenience for passengers.

Stewart Wingate, London Gatwick chief executive, said: ‘We appreciate that lots of our passengers were travelling to be with their families over the festive period and we are sorry that flights were cancelled and passengers left disappointed, particularly at this time of the year.’

London Gatwick will now offer GBP100 of high street vouchers to each passenger whose flight was cancelled on Christmas Eve as a gesture of goodwill and in recognition of the exceptionally difficult circumstances.

Affected passengers may email customer.services@gatwickairport.com with evidence of their booking on a flight due to depart from or arrive at Gatwick Airport on December 24, 2013, and with their postal address. After verifying the details, a voucher for GBP100 will be posted to passengers within 28 days of the application for payment.

Following the incident, London Gatwick had worked with its airport partners to help support passengers, ensuring that 414 of the 535 scheduled flights departed and arrived safely. Ever since all efforts have been focused on restoring the North Terminal to its full operation and a full schedule of flights was operated on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and thereafter.

Gatwick, which has invested over £12m on improving the flood defences, has introduced several short term measures since Tuesday to reduce the risk of such incidents recurring.

In addition, a full review will be undertaken, led by David McMillan, the former director general of Eurocontrol and a non-executive director of Gatwick Airport. The report and recommendations are expected to be published in February 2014.

 

UK’s Network Rail promises minimum disruption to Tarka Line

Network Rail, the authority responsible for the United Kingdom’s rail network, has promised to keep passenger disruption to a minimum during improvements to the line between Exeter and Barnstaple in Devon, which is known as the Tarka Line.

The work is to be carried out during March, and two closures will be necessary to facilitate the upgrade work; however, there will be no closures over the weekend of the Easter holiday.

A closure is scheduled for the section of line between Crediton and Barnstaple from 11pm on Sunday March 10, to 3pm on Wednesday March 13, with work to include track and bridge improvements near Lapford and upgrades at Umberleigh. First Great Western, the train operator for the line, is to provide a bus service calling at all affected stations during the closure.

A second closure is scheduled for Saturday March 23 and Sunday March 24, when buses will again be used to replace trains between Barnstaple and Exeter.

Network Rail customer service manager for the West Country, Tim Maddocks, said, ‘Working with First Great Western, we’ve been able to plan this vital work in a way that avoids the busy Easter weekend. We would like to thank passengers for their patience while we complete these essential improvement works to make the Tarka line safer, smoother and more reliable.’

The Tarka line takes its name from Henry Williamson’s book, Tarka the Otter, due to part of its route travelling through the area of Devon where the book was set. It follows the rivers, Creedy, Yeo and Taw, with a branch to Okehampton that is known as the Dartmoor Railway.

 

Snow storm causes US travel chaos

A major winter storm that has been tracking across the USA is causing serious travel disruption and is expected to bring still more chaos to northern and eastern states.

Thousands of travellers have been stranded at airports due to the wholesale cancellation of flight schedules. The US Midwest has seen the most disruption until now, but the east coast is bracing itself for disruption along its entire length, from Florida to New England.

Flightaware.com has reported that 360 flights have already been cancelled on Thursday December 27, while 1,780 flights were cancelled on Wednesday. The worst affected areas on Wednesday were Indianapolis, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Washington, New York and Cleveland.

News station, WFAA, carried a statement from Cynthia Vega, spokeswoman for Dallas Fort Worth international airport, saying, ‘(Tuesday’s) rapid snowfall, ice and winds required us to implement a de-icing program and severely hampered our ability to safely service aircraft as we normally would.’

At least six people are known to have died due to the severe weather, which is expected to continue moving across the country through Thursday and into Friday, bringing further disruption to the northeast. A statement on the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration website reads, ‘A potent storm system will continue to move through the northeast United States. Additional heavy snowfall will be focused from Upstate New York and Lake Ontario into New England through Thursday night or Friday Morning, where widespread accumulations over a foot are expected. As much as two feet of total snow is possible in central Maine. This will lead to hazardous travel conditions.’

 

Easyjet Flights Threatened With Strike Disruption

Easyjet passengers could face delays and disruption to their plans this week, due to threatened strike action by pilots.

The UK-based budget airline company is asking its passengers to check that industrial action in France and Portugal has not affected their flights before they journey to the airport.

Strike threats by French pilots are in force for tomorrow, Wednesday August 15, and for this coming Friday and Sunday, August 17 and 19. The strikes, backed by the French pilot’s union, the SNPL, are the latest development in an ongoing dispute over pay. While the dispute only involves French pilots, some disruption to easyjet flights in and out of the country is also very likely. The action is also expected to cause more disruption than usual as the strikes are to occur over the period of a religious holiday in France.

A spokesman for the airline was quoted by the Daily Mail, saying, ‘The company regrets that some of its pilots have chosen to move ahead with an industrial action rather than coming back to the negotiations table, particularly in this busy period for holidaymakers. The management remains open to discussion and calls the SNPL union representatives to resume negotiations.’

Meanwhile, it is reported that staff at two of Portugal’s main airports, Oporto and Faro, are also planning industrial action on August 15 and 17, with the threat of further disruption to travellers there at this busy holiday time. Resorts in both of the countries affected by the planned strikes are among some of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe.