Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Les Neiges d'Antan

Où sont les neiges d'antan? On the runways of Europe, seems to be answer to Villon's question. The French authorities are no doubt glad that Heathrow, Brussels, Schiphol, and Frankfurt have been an even worse mess than CDG, because now they have an alibi. Le Monde points out that the Canadians have shown how the job ought to be done. The key seems to be organization, training, and alertness rather than investment in heavy equipment: the Montreal airport makes do with just seven large plows. And naturally, organization, training, and alertness are the things that tend to atrophy when not constantly tested. Since snow of the sort Europe has seen in the past month is relatively rare, it's not surprising that the result has been la pagaille totale, but still, it's inexcusable.

Given the enormous cost of paralysis of major travel hubs--hundreds of thousands of lost vacation and work days, hundreds of immobilized multimillion dollar aircraft, etc. etc.--one would think that there would be more interest in remedying these problems. And of course for the stranded passengers, the most vexing issue--aside from finding a place to sleep--is the absolute paucity of information available about their plight. This could easily be remedied if the airlines and airport authorities would devote a little thought to the problem: special Web sites with emergency information, instructions to passengers about what to do, advance notification of flight delays and cancellations, etc.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's what had struck me during the 'il n'y a pas de pagaille" episode: the absolute lack of preparation from French authorities. So first came denial, second came scapegoating ("MeteoFrance didn't warn us") then complete refusal to take responsibility ("je le dirais si je m'étais trompé, mais je ne me suis pas trompé").
This response was inadequate and creating a comittee to study the situation seemed just as inadequate.
Even if it doesn't snow that badly every winter, European governments must surely know that it snows and must thus have contingency plans?!
In that context, the reaction from the French government was especially galling.
I agree with you whole-heartedly regarding the paucity of information and the easy remedy.
--my boulanger notwithstanding ("Those rich people, they should just have stayed home")
Even without much forethought, surely they've got a couple computer engineers who can whip up a basic website?