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Consumer Council offers help in Belfast International Airport flooding row



Assistance: John French

Assistance: John French

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Assistance: John French

Northern Ireland's consumer watchdog has waded into the row over cars flooded at Belfast International Airport.

Torrential rain at the end of July deluged a car park at Aldergrove, with unhappy passengers arriving home to find their vehicles damaged.

There was also anger at what some claimed was the lack of assistance or interest from the airport afterwards.

Consumer Council chief executive John French said it would be happy to help anyone with a complaint about how their claim had been handled by the airport.

"Any affected passengers should contact Belfast International in the first instance," he said.

"If you remain dissatisfied with the response received or have not yet heard from them, contact the Consumer Council and we will take your complaint up with the airport."

Mr French was speaking as Consumer Council representatives met airport bosses as the row rumbled on.

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The flooding happened on July 28, but only hit the headlines this week when it was featured on Radio Ulster's Nolan Show. Callers claimed that more than 100 vehicles had been affected, with some asserting that airport staff told them up to 1,000 cars had been damaged, with some having to be written off.

However, airport chief Graham Keddie claimed that only 35 cars had been affected by the torrential downpour.

AA expert Ian Crowder said that flooding could cause the sophisticated electronics in modern cars to fail unexpectedly.

"You could be driving what could amount to a death trap," Mr Crowder told the Nolan Show.

Mr Keddie apologised for what happened and pledged that "no one will be out one penny" because of the flooding.

"We are sorry for what happened and are working hard to deliver outcomes that will go towards alleviating distress and disruption," Mr Keddie said.

"We are working closely with the Consumer Council.

"In the first instance we would urge any passengers affected to contact us directly where we will resolve all outstanding issues."

The Met Office at Aldergrove recorded 88.2mm of rain on the afternoon of July 28 - more than the average rainfall for the entire month of July.

In another blow, Belfast International has been ranked 26th out of 31 UK airports surveyed by consumer group Which?, with a disappointing customer score of 50%.

Just five airports received lower scores, with London Luton rated the worst.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport was rated number one with an 87% score.

Passengers were particularly impressed with its security queues, baggage reclaim, prices in shops and food outlets, seating, toilets and staff, which were all given five stars.

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