The executive director of the authority that runs the Orlando International Airport apologized for three shuttle outages and outlined a compensation plan for passengers who missed flights.
“The experience fell far short of what we strive to provide,” said Phil Brown, executive director of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority in a letter to the editor in today’s Orlando Sentinel. “It is not the experience that any of our guests deserve.”
He blamed the outages on Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of America, the company installing the new Automated People Mover to Airside 3.
“Clearly, we were not prepared for the passenger volumes present during our first outage on April 19,” said Brown, referring to a three-hour shutdown that delayed 14,000 passengers and 300 flights. “We learned from that mistake and implemented plans to improve our processes.”
The aviation authority has hired a claims manager, who will notify passengers who missed flights by mid-May. The passengers will be compensated from $250 to $600, depending on the length of their flight and the extend of their delay.
Brown’s letter warned there could be more outages because the people mover has “technically complex systems to overprotect for safety.” The other two outages last week lasted less than an hour and no flights were missed.
As part of a $3 billion capital improvement plan, the airport is replacing the older people mover on Airside 3 so there is only one tram, rather than two, in operation. However, Brown added that the airport has redoubled training of staff and contract personnel to improve the execution of contingency plans, in case of another breakdown.
Buses were used last week to ferry passengers to gates 30-59 and a walkway was opened, after heavy equipment was moved, so people could walk to the terminal.
“We know that The Orlando Experience is more than a trademark; it is an extension of the hospitality for which our community is recognized around the world,” according to Brown’s letter to the community. He committed to achieving that level of excellence in customer service again at the airport, which serves 42 million passengers a year.