Gatwick IT failure brings passengers to a standstill
It’s less than a year since Vodafone boasted the best and most reliable network at Gatwick Airport – but today the new 4G network is down and passengers cannot see their flight departures times or gates on the Flight Information Display (FIDS) monitors.
Instead airport operational staff are resorting to whiteboards and marker pens to update passengers, as well as using megaphones and other audio options. This precedes even the first analogue displays used in the 70s and 80s.
FIDS, as they are known, have come through a seismic IT change since the 90s when they first started to migrate from analogue to digital.
It’s a sign of their essential role in airport operations that this current glitch is creating chaos on the ground at Gatwick.
Normally the network delivers speeds of up to 200mbs across both North and South terminals. The airport has been installed with 300 new mobile antennas and 46 kilometres of fibre optic cabling to provide the 45M tourists and business travellers a reliable network across the airport. This includes the moment they arrive on the ground and their mobile phones switch to the new fast speed network.
When it was installed in November, Vodafone claimed that ‘Airport staff and other businesses on site will also benefit from improved coverage and a more reliable mobile service from Vodafone’. There is supposed to be enough capacity to meet growing customer demand as well as deliver coverage across all aircraft hangars, runways, car parks and other transport links. This includes over 250 companies situated on the airport campus, whose 24,000 employees depend on mobile communications to do their jobs.
But this morning Gatwick Airport issued the following statement: ‘Due to an ongoing issue with Vodafone – an IT provider for the airport – our flight information screens are not displaying correctly. Please use the temporary flight boards in the departure lounges or listen for airline flight announcements. We expect Vodafone to resolve the issue soon and would like to apologise to passengers for any inconvenience.’