DALLAS – Flight disruption continues at many airports across the UK the day after a “technical issue” crippled the country’s air traffic control (ATC) systems. All passengers flying over the next few days are being warned to check before they travel as the ripple effect from the bank holiday chaos continues.
Aircraft and crews have been left out of position after almost 1,200 flights were grounded and thousands of passengers left stranded. National Air Traffic Services (NATS) said it was “sincerely sorry” for the issue, which was resolved after a few hours. The UK government has since ruled out a cyberattack, and the failure will be investigated “very thoroughly.”
In a statement released by NATS, the ATC provider said, “We are now working closely with airlines and airports to manage the flights affected as efficiently as possible. Our engineers will be carefully monitoring the system’s performance as we return to normal operations.”
“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.”
Several flights have already been cancelled this morning at airports across the country. London Heathrow (LHR) has warned that its operations will “remain significantly disrupted” today. London Gatwick (LGW) and Stansted (STN) have said they plan to run a normal schedule, but passengers should expect delays. At Manchester Airport (MAN), many flights had already been cancelled this morning, with countless others delayed.
Meanwhile, a Birmingham Airport (BHX) spokesperson said, “We expect full loads of passengers on flights in and out of BHX today, including on services rescheduled from yesterday. With some aircraft currently in the wrong locations, it may take some days for all the effects of Monday’s air traffic system failure to wash out. Customers are advised to monitor the latest information from their airlines.”
Bristol Airport (BRS) said that “customers can expect ongoing flight disruption” on Tuesday. Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LPL) said in a statement, “Although the country-wide flight planning systems failure has now been resolved, there will be a knock-on effect causing some delays and cancellations. We advise all passengers to check with their airline for information about their flight. Once again, we apologise for any inconvenience caused today.”
Many airlines have now been proactively cancelling their services to bring their schedules back to normality. British Airways (BA) and TUI (BY) have both said they expect “significant delays” over the next few days and not to travel to the airport for their flights without confirming that it is going ahead.
Featured Image: London Heathrow’s ATC tower. Photo: NATS.