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 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.


Europe’s floods cause travel cancellations

Extensive flooding across large areas of Central Europe is causing travel chaos and the cancellation of holiday bookings.

Following days of heavy rain, many of the rivers in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland and Hungary are dangerously high or have already broken their banks. River cruise companies have been the hardest hit, with US-based Viking River Cruises already having cancelled its June 9 sailings from Budapest to Nuremberg, and Passau to Budapest. Further cancellations and alterations to schedules are expected between June 5 and June 16.

In a statement, Viking commented, ‘In many instances, due to having the largest fleet in river cruising combined with our in-house nautical and operations team in Switzerland, we are able to continue operating our itineraries through careful planning and switching of sister ships. In every decision we make, the safety of our guests and crew remains our top priority.’

A number of other river cruise operators are also announcing cancellations, including Avalon Waterways, with three departures cancelled between now and June 14.

Flooding in Slovakia, particularly in its capital city, Bratislava, has prompted the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office to issue a warning for travellers to the country, saying, ‘Some people may also experience disruption to travel plans as a result. Please check with your local operator for the latest information.’

The Czech Republic has also announced a nationwide state of emergency, with 3,000 people having to leave their homes, seven people having died, and the floodwaters yet to peak. Southern Germany has been badly impacted by the flooding, with the army called in to help. According to the BBC, water levels in the Bavarian town, Passau, are impassable and higher than at any time since the 16th century.


Tourists warned to avoid Bangkok as waters rise

Rising floodwaters has meant British holidaymakers have been warned to avoid all but essential travel to the Thai capital, prompting a mass evacuation from the city.


Evacuation orders have been sent to tens of thousands of people in the capital following changes made to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice. This is in response to the large volume of floodwater that is expected to hit the capital later this week.


More than 350 people have been killed from floods as a result of heavy rainfall causing widespread disruption in the worst flooding Thailand has seen in 50 years.


On Tuesday Bangkok and 20 provinces announced a five-day holiday giving people the chance to escape the rising waters.


Authorities are scrambling to try and pump water from the Bangkok region, however the risk of flooding has increased due to record-high water levels in the city’s Chao Phraya River, especially if heavy rain returns when the tide is high.


Bangkok’s second biggest airport Don Muang was forced to close yesterday until November 1 due to surrounding water in the area making access difficult for passengers and staff.


Residents of Don Muang and Bang Phlat districts have been told by Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra to leave for their own safety.


He said: “This is the first time I am using the term ‘eviction’, the first time I’m really asking you to leave”.


Thailand’s main airport Suvarnabhumi has not been affected because it was on higher ground. Thai Airways however, announced flights may be reduced because of staffing concerns.


The FCO website states: “We now advise against all but essential travel to the city of Bangkok and the 26 provinces in Thailand affected by flooding”.


“Our advice against all but essential travel does not include transit through Suvarnabhumi international airport. Flights to destinations elsewhere in Thailand (the resorts of Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, and Koh Samui) continue to operate normally”.


Customers due to travel within the next few days should contact their airline or travel provider for the latest information.


By Charlotte Greenhalgh


Thailand continues to see floodwater rise

British tourists have been warned to take care if visiting Thailand in the near future due to continued flooding.


The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have advised tourists to ‘exercise caution due to widespread flooding’.


The far eastern country has been hit by monsoon rains, however the capital Bangkok has so far avoided the worst of the flooding. Some outer regions are still experiencing rising water, with parts of the country left under water.


The flooding has so far taken the lives of 297, with two people missing. Over 2.3 million people have been affected with worst flooding seen in the north and north-east of the country.


The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s (BMA) has today announced that the capital is still in danger of flooding, however the rainwater is being closely monitored and the situation is not critical at present.


Bangkok’s International Airport is still fully operational, however road and rail services have been affected, especially north of the capital. The areas most at risk of flooding are Sam Mai, Khlong and Khlong Sam Wa.


This is the most awful flooding seen in Thailand in decades.