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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

UK's Gatwick Airport passengers scramble as flight information screens fail

People crowd to see gate numbers as members of staff write correct details on white boards

Gatwick Airport has been hit by an IT failure at height of summer travel season. Reuters
Gatwick Airport has been hit by an IT failure at height of summer travel season. Reuters

Gatwick, Britain's second-busiest airport, was forced to post flight information on white boards on Monday after an IT glitch meant its digital screens failed.

The airport, 45 kilometres south of London and which primarily serves passengers heading on short-haul flights to European destinations, said there were no flight delays linked to the issue, although a handful of people had missed flights.

"Due to an ongoing issue with Vodafone – a provider of IT services for Gatwick – flight information is not being displayed correctly on the airport's digital screens and is currently being displayed manually in the terminals," the airport said.

Media showed people crowding to see their gate numbers as members of staff wrote information on a white board during the busy summer holiday season.

"Gatwick would like to apologise to any passengers affected and expects Vodafone to resolve the issue as soon as possible," said Gatwick, London and Britain's No 2 airport behind Heathrow.

The Gatwick failure came after official figures showed last week that passengers arriving at Heathrow had to queue at passport control for up to two-and-a-half hours in July, sparking further criticism from aviation chiefs about delays caused by Britain's border regime.

The Border Force missed its 45-minute-or-less target for passport check wait times for 95 per cent of visitors from outside the European Economic Area on all but one day last month, according to the data obtained by UK-based airline Virgin Atlantic.

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Queues were longest on July 6 when non-EEA visitors had to wait for up to two hours and 36 minutes at Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport.

The boss of Virgin Atlantic called the queue times "unacceptable", adding to criticism from the chief executive of British Airways, who said previously that Heathrow's queues were worse than at other major world airport.

"We all agree that security and safety at our airports is vital and remains our top priority, but other countries are managing their borders more effectively," Virgin Atlantic's chief executive Craig Kreeger said.