Gatwick HR director discusses snow challenges

The freezing weather conditions may have brought Gatwick Airport to a standstill for a second day running but the airport’s HR director and her team have been doing all they can to ensure the welfare of passengers and staff remains a priority.

Speaking exclusively to Personnel Today, Tina Oakley revealed it was “all hands on deck” at the country’s second busiest airport, which has struggled to cope with persistent, heavy snow and has imposed a flight ban for the past two days.

Oakley, who took up her new role just eight weeks ago, and her 45-strong team have cancelled normal day-to-day duties to cope with the task at hand – namely helping out thousands of stranded passengers.

“Yesterday we were helping people find their way home, giving out blankets, food, and looking after the welfare of our customers,” she said. “The team have pretty much been mucking in and helping with frontline staff. I was manning the information desk last night and today we’ve been directing people to catch buses. It’s been all hands on deck.”

Around 100 workers have been working around the clock to clear the runway but the airport was closed for a second day today as around 20cm of snow fell in West Sussex last night – double the amount that fell the previous evening. Flights have been grounded until at least 0600 GMT on Friday.

Oakley added: “I’ve been attending briefing meetings every couple of hours. Key agenda items are around passenger and staff welfare, making sure people are getting enough rest breaks, and compiling the roster; we’ve been quite short staffed in some areas.”

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