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NCE Daily News Update Friday 11 April: Gatwick Christmas chaos a 'wake-up call' for airports; Construction output down

Committee of MPs warns airports to improve operational resilience in wake of flood problems at Gatwick; In construction, official statistics show a decline in output.

Severe disruption at Gatwick last Christmas should serve as a wake-up call to airports to improve their operational resilience, a report by MPs said today.

Over 11,000 passengers were affected by cancelled flights on Christmas Eve after a basement of the North Terminal at Gatwick Airport flooded, causing some electrical systems to fail.

The House of Commons Transport Committee said: “Far better contingency planning and preparedness must be put in place by UK airports, and by the airlines that use them, to prevent the kind of chaos that unfolded at Gatwick airport.”

In the wake of the power failure there was confusion and a lack of information at the airport, it said, as well as a lack of toilets and drinking water.

Airports needed to develope cleared operational procedures to ensure information was properly communicated to passengers in future, it warned.


Construction output fell in February by 2.8% (£270M) compared with January, according to official statistics.

There were falls in both sub-sectors with new work falling 2.6% (£160M) and repair & maintenance falling 3.1% (£110M).

The longer term data show a slightly “improved picture”, said the Office of National Statistics, which emphasised the volatility in the short-term estimates, it said.

The three monthly (December to February) estimate of construction output is that all work grew 0.3% when compared with the previous three months (September to November) due to a 1.0% increase in new work. During this period repair & maintenance decreased 0.8% despite a slight rise of 0.3% in public housing repair & maintenance. 

“In February 2014, the UK experienced a series of adverse weather conditions, with the Met Office reporting ‘a succession of major winter storms…strong winds, heavy rain and significant weather impacts including extensive flooding’,” said the report. “This has coincided with a 2.8% fall in construction output compared to the previous month, the strongest fall since November 2013. Within this, total new work and repair & maintenance both fell on the month, by 2.6% and 3.1% respectively.”

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