AIr traffic system failure fixed but holidaymakers warned of significant delays for days


Hundreds of passengers were left stranded

Hundreds of passengers were left stranded at Heathrow (Image: Jonathan Buckmaster)

Hundreds of thousands of Brits were left grounded or delayed after a UK-wide air traffic control system failure caused airport chaos - and the disruption is reportedly set to continue.

Some passengers have been told of the issue at airports overseas, with holidaymakers being made to wait at their gates for more information. 

NATS, the UK's leading provider of air traffic control services, earlier told that its engineers are working to "find a fault and fix it". 

It later confirmed that the issue had been corrected, adding it was "now working closely with airlines and airports to manage the flights affected as efficiently as possible."

Aviation analyst Alex Macheras warned that flight delays and cancellations could be expected for the rest of the week.

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UK airspace

Live flight trackers show UK airspace looking extremely congested (Image: Flight Radar 24)

In a statement, a spokesman said: "The flight planning issue affected the system’s ability to automatically process flight plans, meaning that flight plans had to be processed manually which cannot be done at the same volume, hence the requirement for traffic flow restrictions. 

"Our priority is always to ensure that every flight in the UK remains safe and we are sincerely sorry for the disruption this is causing. Please contact your airline for information on how this may affect your flight."

The service said in an earlier statement they were "sincerely sorry for the disruption."

TV presenter Gabby Logan, who has also been affected by the delays, was stranded at Budapest Airport. She wrote on X, formerly Twitter: "After almost 3 weeks away from home I am hours from hugging my family. And have just been told UK airspace is shut. We could be here for 12 hours. So we sit on the plane and wait."

Loganair wrote on X: "There has been a network-wide failure of UK air traffic control computer systems this morning.

"Although we are hopeful of being able to operate most intra-Scotland flights on the basis of local coordination and with a minimum of disruption, north-south and international flights may be subject to delays."

Travellers were left stranded for hours on end

Travellers were left stranded for hours on end (Image: Jonathan Buckmaster)

the UK Borders in Terminal 5 with arriving internation travel passengers waiting for immigration control and passport check.

There is uncertainty over what caused the problem (Image: Getty)

Mr Macheras said: "If you're flying from, or to the UK today (Monday) or Tue/Wed/Thu, expect flight delays and cancellations following today's national air traffic provider system outage.

"Airline jets are in the wrong place following the restrictions; some pilots and crew will be unable to fly due to working hour limits; the backlog is immense.

"This week was already set to be one of the busiest travel weeks of the year so far, airlines will be clearing the disruption from today's chaos over several days."

He added that while airlines cannot compensate for the "extraordinary circumstance" presented by the traffic control chaos, "airlines do have a duty of care that they must adhere to."

The analyst encouraged travellers to "keep receipts for food, ground transportation, hotel accommodation" and send them to the airlines after the journey.

The issue prevented many flights for several hours

The issue prevented many flights for several hours (Image: Jonathan Buckmaster)

The entrance to Departures at Gatwick Airport South Terminal.

Gatwick Airport gave an update (Image: Getty)

easyJet's notification to passengers said: “We have been advised of an Air Traffic control issue currently affecting all flights due to fly into or out of United Kingdom airspace.

“We are working with the relevant authorities to understand the impact of this issue and timescale of this issue and the timescale for normal operations to resume.

“If you are already on board one of our planes waiting to take off then our crew will keep you updated.

“If you are in on one of our airports waiting to board then please continue to check the flight information screens in the terminal and we will  provide further updates here on flight tracker.”

The statement added: “Any customers affected by delays and disruption to their flight will receive email and SMS information direct to the contact details provided at the time of booking. If your flight is due to depart later today, we ask that you continue with your travel plans at this time.

“Even if your flight is not flying from or to the United Kingdom your plane may be affected from an earlier flight that was impacted by this issue. Any further updates will be provided here on the flight tracker.

“Whilst this disruption is outside of our control, we sincerely apologise for the disruption to your travel plans today.” spoke to Gatwick Airport about the disruption.

In a statement, a Gatwick spokesman said: “We are aware that there is an issue with NATs but have no further details at this stage. All planes are still taking off and landing at Gatwick.”

A British Airways spokesperson added: "We are working closely with NATS to understand the impact of a technical issue that is affecting UK airspace, and will keep our customers up to date with the latest information."

London Luton Airport also commented on the disruption, they said: "We are aware of an air traffic control issue affecting UK airspace, resulting in disruption to flights.

"We are working with all relevant authorities to understand the full impact of the issue and when normal operations are likely to resume. Passengers should check with their airline for the latest status of their flight.”

Labour's Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh tweeted: "Extremely concerning for passengers travelling in and out of the UK on one of the busiest days of the year. UK airspace is not closed but significant delays are expected thanks to a technical fault.
Surprised not to see our Transport Secretary make a statement yet."

The major problems were also criticised by avidation specialist Paul Charles, chief executive of the PC Agency, who said: "This is a pretty significant outage. It's been between six and eight hours. It's affected one of the busiest days of the year in the UK. This is going to need thorough investigation as it's yet another example of creaking infrastructure affecting what should be a very stable aviation system."

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