A report into the chaos on Christmas Eve at Gatwick after flooding caused a power failure suggests the disruption should be a wake-up call to other airports.
More than eleven thousand passengers were affected by the delays and cancellations in 2013. Passengers complained of inconsistent information and a lack of facilities.
A report into the chaos at Gatwick airport on Christmas Eve should be 'a wake-up call for airports across the UK' in dealing with disruption.
More than 11,000 passengers were affected by delays and cancellations after flooding caused a power failure at the airport.
A report into the problems looked at what passengers were not happy with, which included:
Lack of clarity about who was in charge
A lack of basic facilities, such as toilets and drinking water
Confusion about what expenses passengers could be reimbursed for, particularly if alternative flights had been arranged
Louise Ellman, chair of the Transport Committee said, "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 airline operators, airlines and other contractors, and which put passenger interests first."
A six-week public consultation on plans for a second runway at Gatwick is due to start today. Airport bosses say it would be the biggest ever boost to the local economy - worth £56bn and creating 19,000 new jobs.
Campaigners say it'll double aeroplane noise and affect the environment.
The next steps to decide on the future of UK runway capacity will be outlined today, with Heathrow and Gatwick airports shortlisted for new runways.
Both airports could be possible sites for new runways to be installed by 2030.
Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission will talk about the recommendations for the new runways.
London Mayor Boris Johnson's aviation adviser Daniel Moylan will also speak at the conference.
Mr Johnson is completely against a new, third runway at Heathrow and has instead approved a brand new airport in the Thames Estuary.
The commission excluded any of the estuary plans last month but have not ruled it out completely.
Gatwick saw an increase in passengers last month despite severe disruption on Christmas Eve.
A total of 2.38 million people passed through the airport in December - that's a rise of nearly 5 per cent on the previous year.
Flooding of the River Mole led to power failures on Christmas Eve, with a number of flights cancelled or delayed.
The Chief Executive of Gatwick Airport, Stewart Wingate, has apologised for the chaos at the site on Christmas Eve. Thousands of passengers were stranded for hours after heavy rain led to power cuts. Nearly 70 flights were cancelled.
The Davies report into the future of aviation in the South highlights that airport expansion is desperately needed in the south east - but few people want a new runway in their backyard. While growth could create more jobs, it would also bring more aircraft noise and pollution.
Gatwick Airport still has a lot of spare capacity. But, is a new runway even necessary? Our correspondent Malcolm Shaw has been looking at the arguments.
Passengers at Heathrow, Gatwick, and Southampton airports are being told to expect delays due to an air traffic control problem. National Air Traffic Services says it's a technical hitch related to a changeover from night-time to daytime duties.
Due to a technical problem at Swanwick we are currently experiencing some difficulty switching from night time to daytime operation. This may result in some delays for which we apologise. Engineers are working to rectify the problem as soon as possible."
Gatwick Airport has released its passenger figures for the first half of the 2013/ 2014 financial year. A total of 20.8 million passengers used the site between April & September 2013.
Turnover at Gatwick was up 10.7% to #360.6 million, while the pre-tax profit was up 18.75% to £127.3 million.
The airport's Chief Executive Stewart Wingate said:
"Gatwick will celebrate four years of new ownership in December. In this time we have turned around decades of under-investment to enable Gatwick to emerge as a competitive, world-class airport.
"Our results today show a strong financial performance but we must not become complacent. We must continue to invest and ensure we remain competitive.
"A new runway here would deliver the routes that passengers actually want at a better price, more quickly and with significantly less environmental impact. The UK's next runway has got to be at Gatwick."
ITV Meridian recently spoke to Guy Stephenson, Chief Commercial officer, Gatwick Airport about the site's plans for the next decade.
“We are continuing to experience a power outage affecting some operational systems in the South Terminal. Unfortunately this has resulted in some delays for passengers and we apologise for any inconvenience caused. We are working hard to fix the problem and have contingencies in place to minimise disruption. We advise all passengers to confirm the status of their flight with the airline and to check in at the terminal they are scheduled to fly from.”