A disabled passenger fell to his death on an escalator after arriving at the Gatwick Airport while trying to get off the flight after being left on an EasyJet plane. The man had been waiting for assistance but when it didn't come after a long wait, he tried to disembark on his own when he tragically fell and died.
The unnamed man's death is the first to be related to the travel chaos that is sweeping UK's airports. Gatwick Airport is struggling to manage the passenger rush amid staff shortages. The airport has already forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights this summer.
An investigation has been launched following the mishap at the Gatwick Airport. The unidentified man was one of three "passengers with restricted mobility" (PRMs) who needed special help on the plane.
According to reports, the man and his wife both needed assistance in order to disembark the plane. The two were waiting for a long time. After a while, security staff from Wilson came and took his wife away. The man kept waiting.
However, after waiting for a long time, he got frustrated and tried to navigate his way through the busy North Terminal. He was left on the plane and decided to exit himself soon before the tragedy occurred, according to reports.
"A member of staff came to take the woman into the airport but the man was left on the plane," a source told The Sun.
"He must not have wanted to wait for the staff member to come back so made his own way into the terminal. While on the escalator the passenger fell down and suffered serious injuries as a result and died," eth source added.
"This is a tragic incident which should never have happened. Someone should have been helping him."
"Staff shortages were not a factor in this incident as has been claimed. It is normal for one staff member to disembark three passengers who require assistance by taking them one at a time the short distance to the waiting buggy," a spokesperson of the Gatwick airport said.
The incident occurred around 12.50 pm on Wednesday, and comes after a quadriplegic woman was recently left for 90 minutes aboard a Gatwick jet. However, this passenger's death is the first to be linked to the travel mayhem that is sweeping UK's airports.
For weeks, Gatwick's North Terminal has seen chaotic scenes and long lines as staff shortages have caused planes to be cancelled or badly delayed. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled around the country in the last two weeks.
"There's been a real issue with staffing problems and some disabled people have had to wait for hours for help," the source told The Sun.
Flights have been cancelled at the last minute, baggage has been stranded hundreds of miles away, and snaking waits have become the new normal at Britain's troubled airports in recent weeks.
Some visitors have even been forced to sleep on the floor of terminals due to long delays, according to shocking images from around the country. Staff shortages have compelled airlines to cancel over 4,000 flights at Gatwick this summer.
Gatwick said it had taken the decision to temporarily reduce flights following a review of its operations, to help passengers "experience a more reliable and better standard of service".