Travel chaos increased when a burst pipe at Gatwick caused water crisis in toilets and restaurants

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Gatwick Airport had to close some of its toilets and restaurants on Thursday.
  • Gatwick had to close some of its toilets and restaurants on Thursday because of a burst water pipe.
  • The airport gave out bottled water to passengers and brought in water tankers.
  • Gatwick's issue came amid a summer of travel chaos with staff shortages and surging passenger numbers.
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A burst pipe meant that London's Gatwick Airport had to close some of its toilets and restaurants on Thursday, compounding existing travel chaos.

One Twitter user said that there were "no toilet facilities open on the food court level and large queues at the few that are open," while another said that some restaurants weren't serving food.

Some Twitter users shared photos of signs at the airport which read: "Only limited toilets available due to a local water supply issue."

Gatwick said on Friday morning that the problem had been resolved and that it was "operating normally."

"Toilets were limited but still available in both terminals and the majority of restaurants remained open for the entire day," a Gatwick spokesperson told Insider. "Contrary to some reports, at no point did Gatwick 'run out of water.'"

"Bottled water was also made available to passengers throughout," the spokesperson added. The airport told Sussex Live that it brought water tankers on site.

The spokesperson told Insider that the airport had been affected by an issue with local supplier SES Water between around 08:30 and 17h00 "which led to lower water pressure than normal across the airport."

SES Water said that the problem was down to a burst water main, which the BBC reported left 100 properties without water access and 1,200 with low pressure in the areas of Horley, Surrey and Crawley, West Sussex.

"Water supplies have returned to normal," SES Water told Insider on Friday morning. "We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to anyone affected by the incident yesterday and thank them for their patience and understanding."

The water access issues at Gatwick came amid mounting travel chaos at airports worldwide. Airlines have delayed and canceled thousands of flights this summer because of technical glitches, bad weather, and a combination of understaffing and soaring demand for travel. Customers have complained about huge lines for check-inlost luggage, and problems accessing customer services.

According to flight-tracking site FlightAware, 42% of flights to Gatwick on Thursday were delayed. Twitter users said on Thursday and Friday that they didn't have to wait long for security, though the airport is advising passengers to arrive "as soon as check-in opens for their flight."

Gatwick, located around 30 miles south of London, is one of the UK's busiest airports. Nearly 3.1 million passengers flew to or from the airport in May, according to data from UK's Civil Aviation Authority.

Gatwick is one of the airports that has introduced a flight cap on amid understaffing. It said that some companies based at the airport were operating with a "severe lack of staff resources" that could lead to poor service, including long lines, delays, and last-minute cancellations. 

"This action will then allow airlines to fly and manage more predictable and reliable flight programmes," the airport said.

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