Ports of Jersey have spoken out after 50 visitors were forced to stay overnight at Elizabeth Terminal after 210 passengers were left stranded following the cancellation of a ferry and a flight on what is arguably one of the busiest weeks of the year.
An Emergency Plan for Disrupted Passengers was deployed and passengers for whom no accommodation was available were offered shelter at the Harbour on Friday night.
The Liberation was unable to dock in Jersey due to strong winds and sea conditions, leaving 500 passengers in Jersey. Ports of Jersey staff, assisted by Condor Ferries, sourced accommodation for 160 of them, the majority of whom had no alternative accommodation.
Later that same evening, technical issues led to the cancellation of an easyJet flight to London Gatwick, which a further 149 passengers. Once again, alternative accommodation for the night was sourced by staff from ground agents Swissport on behalf of the airline for the 50 passengers who were unable to secure their own.
On what was one of the busiest weeks in the island due to the Battle of Flowers, the majority of holiday accommodation was already full. Ports of Jersey say that teams across both Ports "worked tirelessly throughout the evening to secure what rooms were still available for those passengers who had no alternative accommodation option."
Pictured: Both the Liberation sailing to Poole and an EasyJet flight to Gatwick were cancelled on Friday.
However, when it became evident that no further alternative overnight accommodation could be sourced, a decision was made to keep the Elizabeth Terminal open all night and move all of the affected sea and air passengers to a single location at St. Helier Harbour.
Affected air passengers were transported by coach down to the harbour and arrangements were made with the Island's Emergency Planning Office to provide camp beds and blankets. Catering supplier Casual Dining Group (CDG) provided complimentary light snacks and refreshments, which were available throughout the night, as well as breakfast on Saturday morning.
Commenting on their Facebook page, Jersey Airport said that "had the cancellations been earlier in the day", they would have had easy access for local media to call out for assistance from locals, as some suggested. "As it was, these disruptions happened in the evening when 1000s of residents were watching Moonlight Parade and traffic disruption and delays also inevitable," they added.
Duty Executive for Ports of Jersey, Les Smallwood, who oversaw Friday's process along with senior members of the Customer Services Team, said the evening was challenging for Ports.
He explained: "Living on an island we are used to travel disruption with tried and tested processes in place to deal with such situations. It was extremely unfortunate that on one of the busiest nights of the year we faced travel disruption at both at the airport and harbour.
"Although overnight accommodation was found for 160 of the 210 passengers that required it, we had no option but to implement our emergency plan to assist those 50 passengers who were still affected. Although disappointed and frustrated, the majority of passengers were understanding of the situation and appreciated the efforts being made on their behalf."
Alternative travel options for those passengers affected were subsequently handled by the airline and ferry operator.
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