For flying out loud

While authorities at the Domodedovo airport claim it is returning to normal, the facility is already facing serious administrative checks. The airport might also have to deal with a major lawsuit in the near future.

On Tuesday, Domodedovo airport reported full resumption of normal work. Most of the flights had been cancelled after Sunday’s freezing rain caused power cuts and left thousands of passengers stranded.

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According to the airport spokesperson, Elena Galanova, the transport hub managed to reschedule most of the suspended flights on Sunday and Monday.

Flights take off every 2-3 minutes,” she said. Galanova added that of the flights cancelled on Sunday, only three remain suspended. All of the stalled flights are now preparing to take off, she noted.

Meanwhile, the airport might soon face harsh consequences for its Sunday delays.

Russia’s consumer rights watchdog “Rospotrebnadzor” has already launched 14 administrative cases against the facility. The head of “Rospotrebnadzor”, Gennady Onishchenko, said that his agency would conduct a check of Domodedovo airport’s passenger terminal on Wednesday.

Onishchenko added that 400 flights were cancelled on Sunday and said his agency has talked to the passengers of suspended flights, informing them of their rights for free food, water and hotels.

Onishchenko confirmed that the airport’s electricity supply has returned to normal and all the airport’s services are in a proper working condition.

The state agency check is not the only challenge the airport will have to withstand in the near future.

Attorneys are preparing a large consolidated suit from passengers who suffered from the delays at Moscow’s Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo airports, which was also affected by the poor weather conditions.

Many people at both airports complained they were not given enough food and water, or indeed the hotel beds that they were promised.

According to our information, the situation in the airports is unacceptable,” said lawyer Sergey Zhorin. “Food prices jumped tenfold, airlines are breaching the law by not providing accommodations and food to their customers.”

We are going to file a consolidated lawsuit from all passengers affected,” he added. “This can be more than 1,000 people and the sum of the suit may be unprecedented for Russia.”

Also, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has ordered prosecutors to conduct a check of the Domodedovo airport’s services in order to establish how the facility is protecting the passengers’ rights on food, water and hotels.

They are also checking whether the airport is providing passengers with opportunities to store their luggage and to take care of children.

Frustration has overtaken those who have spent the past two days awaiting flights, as they barricaded check-in points and crowded passport control zones. Security measures have been stepped up, but there have been no reports of arrests.

Struggling to contain the commotion and restore service, the head of the Domodedovo airport, Vyacheslav Nekrasov, sent an open letter to federal authorities asking for assistance.

“Your involvement is needed to urgently restore the power supply in agreement with the necessary level of safety by the New Year holidays,” the message read. “Otherwise, the airport’s regular operation is not possible.”

In response to the plea, the chief of the Federal Air Transport Agency called an emergency meeting early on Tuesday, following which he promised to remedy the situation within the next two to three days.

Russia's Prime Minister also has slammed airport and airline personnel for what he terms unacceptable behavior. Thousands of stranded passengers in Moscow said they were badly treated by airport personnel, almost being left to fend for themselves.

Vladimir Putin has told everyone in charge of Moscow's airports and their power suppliers that they will be working during the upcoming holidays – they need do be available in case of further problems.

“Everyone who is responsible for restoring power supplies in regions hit by bad weather conditions should not go on holiday. It's a difficult situation and it should be treated very seriously. As far as airport and airline personnel are concerned, I think it's unacceptable the way they treated stranded passengers,” Putin said.