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Solution to airport crises is low-tech loudhailers

AIRPORT chiefs have been told they should buy loudhailers to communicate with passengers in case a power failure wipes out electronic communication systems.

The suggestion emerged in a report into the chaos at London Gatwick airport on Christmas Eve, which stranded 11,000 travellers when flooding cut its electricity supply.

The airport was left with no flight information systems or check-in facilities, and there were criticisms of the airport's handling of the crisis after passengers had to sleep on the floor for days, with only one functioning toilet and limited access to drinking water.

A report by the UK's parliamentary transport committee said the incident was "a wake-up call for airports" and urged a rethink of contingency planning. It said: "For example, when electronic systems go down, airports should have loudspeakers [hailers] available so that staff can communicate with large groups of passengers."

Airports and airlines should also be clearer on when flights should be cancelled and how to reclaim the cost of looking after passengers during disruption.

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport, which like Gatwick is owned by Global Infrastructure Partners, said: "Our handling of the recent security incident at Edinburgh Airport showed that operational resilience and passenger welfare are things that we take extremely seriously."

A spokesman for Glasgow Airport said it had a robust approach to ­operational resilience.

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