Teesside Airshow chaos caused by 'lack of staff, no plan for police and 2,500 without tickets'

11/06/22. A crowd of people attempting to get to Teesside International Airport for Teesside Airshow have to watch the displays from their cars after delays affected the event. ITV News.
Cars were brought to a standstill as people tried to make their way to Teesside Airshow earlier this month. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Traffic chaos at a major North East airshow was caused by a lack of staff, thousands turning up without tickets and no plan for police to attend, a report has found.

Roads around Teesside International Airport, near Darlington, became gridlocked and some passengers missed their flights as more than an estimated 20,000 people flocked to Teesside Airshow, which returned after a five-year gap earlier this month.

A review into the event on Saturday 11 June, published on Tuesday 28 June, found a number of failings in its organisation by SkyLive Air Limited, which was responsible for the staging and management of the airshow.

Phil Forster, managing director of Teesside International Airport, who carried out the report, said: "It is clear that there were a number of shortcomings in the planning for and management of the traffic aspects of the event, which contributed to the issues on the day.

"It was incredibly disappointing that the airshow, which was a good event that attracted excellent flight displays and entertained those that were able to attend, was overshadowed by these serious traffic issues."

The Red Arrows are always a staple of Teesside Airshow. Credit: Stuart Bolton

What went wrong?

The report found there was a lack of communication in the organising of the event.

It said the traffic management company was aware that it could take up to four hours for the number of expected vehicles to get onto the site, but the airport or key parties were not made aware of the information and there was "no record of them being informed".

Failings were also identified in the organisation and management; the report said only one public event safety advisory group was held and it did not include representatives from Cleveland Police.

Mr Forster wrote: "Although Durham Police has jurisdiction over the Darlington roads in the immediate vicinity of the airport, many ticketholders would have come from other parts of the Tees Valley, and joined up working between the forces could have benefitted the planning process and capacity issues experienced by Durham Police on the day."

The review found that on the morning of the airshow, there were no arrangements in place for the police to be at the event, despite more than 20,000 people planning to attend the event.

"Only once the traffic had significantly built up to the point of serious disruption to the local area were the police brought in, and they had to call in officers from home to assist," Mr Forster's report continued.

The traffic management contractor was found to have just five staff working at the event, with "anecdotal feedback" critical of them being "unprepared" and "reactive, rather than proactive".

Mr Forster said: "There were also accounts from members of the public that some members of the transport management staff sat in their vehicles rather than actively trying to manage the traffic, even where problems were clearly significant."

He added: "The execution and resourcing of the traffic management provided was inadequate on the day."

The report also found that delays were made worse by more than 2,500 cars turning up without the required pre-booked car parking pass.

Mr Forster added: "All parties involved in the planning for, and management of the airshow had a responsibility for the safe and efficient running of the show, and as highlighted in this report, there were various failings in this regard."

What next?

The report concluded that Teesside International Airport would be unlikely to host another airshow without "significant reassurance" that the issues found in the air show's management would be addressed.

It also pledged to "ensure that disruption of this kind does not happen again at the airport".

What about refunds?

SkyLive Air, the organiser of the Teesside Airshow, has now confirmed the process for refunds. People are advised to:

  • Send their ticket (with the stub attached to prove that is has not been used) back to SkyLive

  • Include a stamped envelope marked with the address where they would like the refund returning

  • Send both by recorded delivery to: SkyLive, PO BOX 626, Darlington, DL1 9FW

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