Christmas Quarrel
Gatwick and EasyJet clash over Christmas Eve delays
Christmas Quarrel

 Gatwick Airport and EasyJet are clashing over who is to blame for the Christmas eve chaos leaving passengers stranded for up to 12 hours.  


The low cost airline accused the airport of failing to respond quickly enough to the crisis at its north terminal, in a hearing in front of the Commons Transport Select Committee, reports the Daily Telegraph.


EasyJet has lost £2 million from the fiasco, which was caused by flooding and consequent power failures at the airport's north terminal, MPs were told.


Jason Holt, head of easyJet's operations at Gatwick, accused the airport of failing to provide enough staff to bus passengers, who had expected to take a flight from the north terminal, to the south terminal, which was unaffected.


EasyJet claimed that Gatwick only admitted to a shortage of drivers to transport passengers in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, more than eight hours after the airport's management had been alerted to the risk that the nearby River Mole would flood.


The airline said if it had known, it would have cancelled more flights rather than leaving passengers waiting for hours.


Gatwick's chief executive Stewart Wingate, who was on annual leave on Christmas Eve but responded to the crisis by telephone, said he was "very sorry" for the disruption caused.


"We fell short but we did so in trying to get as many of our passengers to their Christmas destinations as we could," Mr Wingate said, insisting that the airport had not seen a similar flood since 1967.


MPs were told that the airport only received a warning that the River Mole was going to flood 30 minutes before the damage was caused.


"Historically we were told that there was very little risk of flooding to the north terminal. It was an exceptionally low risk," Mr Wingate said.

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