Airports face fines for future snow chaos

Hotel News - 24/11/2011

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Draft legislation published by the Government this week said that Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead must all have plans in place for handling snow and severe weather through the upcoming winter or could be required to pay heavy fines.

The news comes nearly a year after heavy snowfall caused severe disruptions and criticism of the BAA and Heathrow airport’s handling of the scenario in which thousands were stuck a the airport for days. The operator later drew heavy fire after it was revealed that its chief executive, Colin Matthews, had received an annual bonus worth more than double the amount the firm had spent in preparing Heathrow for adverse weather conditions.

The event revealed a loophole in which the operators escaped punishment in spite of ruining holiday plans for hundreds of thousands of travellers, as more than 65 per cent of flights were grounded.

The bill also states that airports, much like airlines, would now have to produce regular performance reports showing figures such as how long passengers have to wait at security queues.

Air carriers said the changes were welcomed. A spokesman for Virgin Atlantic said that reform of the issue was “long overdue” and that despite airport taxes rising much faster than inflation it was clear that bad weather performance had not been improved.

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