By ELOISE WALTON & DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]
Hundreds of passengers were left stranded at Faro airport on Wednesday as flights to the UK were cancelled following airport runway closures after heavy snowfall.
Silves resident Lynne Smith, who was accompanying a relative to Faro airport on Wednesday morning, told the Algarve Resident: “The airport is chaotic. All flights to Gatwick have been cancelled and there are only two information desks open for passengers to find out what is going on.”
She added: “I found the communication at the airport very poor. No-one is telling passengers what is going on despite information being available online, so hundreds of people are queuing for a long time without needing to.”
At the time the Algarve Resident went to press, no-one from Faro airport or the airport management company Ana Aeroportos were available to comment on the situation.
However, an airline employee working in Faro airport said: “There are many flight cancellations at the airport today and lots of people are waiting for delayed or cancelled flights.”
A statement released on the Gatwick airport website on Wednesday said: “The runway at Gatwick Airport is currently closed for snow clearance. We are working closely with our airline and business partners to re-open the runway as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The statement added: “Passengers travelling from Gatwick in the next 24 hours should contact their airline for the latest flight information. We regret the disruption caused to our passengers’ travel plans, but the safety and security of aircraft and passengers are our number one priority.”
Other airports closed in southern England on Wednesday included Bristol, Exeter and Stansted, while Heathrow suffered many flight delays and cancellations. Further north, John Lennon Airport in Liverpool was also closed.
Several airlines released statements to advise passengers to obtain further information before travelling, to avoid unnecessary waits at the airports.
British airline BA strongly advised customers to “check the status of their flight before they leave for the airport”.
easyJet recommended on its website that passengers who were affected by flight cancellations, which on Wednesday included flights between Gatwick, Bristol and Faro, could alter their flights online, free of charge or ask for a refund.
In a statement, easyJet said: “We are doing everything possible to operate as many flights, but acknowledge some passengers are being disrupted during these extreme and difficult circumstances. We, of course, sincerely apologise to those affected passengers.”
A spokesman from Aer Lingus told the Algarve Resident: “We are rerouting all passengers from the Wednesday flights to the flight on Friday, January 8. Unfortunately, Thursday morning is already fully booked, so Friday is the earliest that people can travel.”
The spokesman added that Aer Lingus will not charge passengers for alterations made to flights affected by the cancellations or will give the option of a full refund.
For the flight departing from Faro with Aer Lingus on Friday, January 8 (today), priority has been given to those with children, the elderly and disabled passengers.
“There will be no vouchers provided to passengers for accommodation while waiting for their flights. We have been advised to inform passengers to contact our head office in Dublin or visit our website,” said the Aer Lingus spokesman.
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