The possibility of Gatwick getting the recommended new South East runway was seriously reduced by the way it handled flooding and high winds on Christmas Eve.
But the airport responded in a very strong and positive way.
David McMillan, a Non-Executive Director of Gatwick Airport, was commissioned by the Gatwick Airport Board to review the airport community’s response on the day.
He was also asked to recommend clear actions the airport, airlines, baggage handlers and wider community should implement to ensure the airport becomes more resilient and responds more effectively in times of disruption.
Mr McMillan outlined 27 clear recommendations which cover three key areas – flood and weather resilience; contingency planning arrangements; and passenger welfare.
The airport has accepted all these recommendations and has set aside £30 million to help implement any major works which might be needed.
Immediately following the events of Christmas Eve, in addition to offering £100 of high street vouchers to every passenger whose flight had been cancelled, Gatwick made £5 million available to fund further improvements in flood resilience.
Projects already underway include installing new water storage chambers at critical points at the airport; enhancing resilience in the North Terminal basement to offer better protection to critical assets; and improving systems used to monitor pumping stations and river levels.
The airport is committed to implementing all the short-term actions which have been recommended by October this year, and will be working closely with the Environment Agency and other relevant agencies on long-term flood planning for the airport.
Alongside projects to better protect the airport and its assets from flooding, significant focus will also be given to improving the airport, airline and wider airport community’s Control and Command processes and to the crucial area of passenger welfare.
Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, London Gatwick, said: “We fully accept the recommendations of the McMillan Report and we have already started to take actions in light of his findings. There are clearly lessons that we and the airport community can learn from the events of Christmas Eve. It is important we now look to the future and make the necessary improvements to ensure the airport is more resilient to flooding. In addition, we will work with the airport community to improve all aspects of contingency planning, with a particular focus on passenger welfare in times of disruption.”