Air traffic control: Airlines warn of flight delays over technical faulton August 28, 2023 at 12:12 pm

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Many Bank Holiday passengers face disruption as they travel on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

An Easyjet Airbus aircraft taxis close to the northern runway at Gatwick Airport in Crawley, Britain, August 25, 2021Image source, Reuters

A “technical issue” has hit UK air traffic control systems, with airlines warning of delays to flights.

The National Air Traffic Services said it was experiencing “technical issues” and had “applied traffic flow restrictions to maintain safety”.

“Engineers are working to find and the fix the fault. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”

They did not provide any further information about what caused it or how long it would take to fix.

Airlines British Airways, Loganair and EasyJet have all warned passengers there could be delays to flights.

BBC journalist Alex Murray said he was due to fly from Bari, Italy to the UK but has faced delays – with passengers told of an “unknown delay” due to an air traffic control problem in London.

He said they had been told they could expect delays of around six hours.

“At the moment we’re waiting to find out if we’ll be disembarking until our departure time,” he said.

Broadcaster Gabby Logan also said on X she was on a plane on a runway at Budapest airport, and had “just been told UK airspace is shut”, adding “we could be here for 12 hours”.

She said air traffic that was already airborne was being allowed to land, but nothing else was taking off.

According to travel journalist Simon Calder, aircraft are coming down slowly, but that the “flow rate” – at which aircraft can land – has been significantly reduced.

He told BBC News that today is one of the busiest days of the year, as many people return from long weekend trips abroad – and the UK’s London Gatwick Airport is the busiest single runway airport in the world.

There is “no certainty about when it is going to be fixed” he said, adding that officials appear to “not know at this stage what caused the problem nor indeed how to fix it”.

“I fear there are going to be an awful lot of people waking up tomorrow where they don’t want to be,” he said.

Scottish airline Loganair said on social media site X, formerly Twitter, there had been a network-wide failure of UK air traffic control computer systems, warning some flights may face delays.

British Airways said it was working with NATS to “understand the impact” of the issue, and said it will keep customers updated.

Emmet Lyons, a journalist for BBC’s US partner CBS News, said he had received an update from EasyJet while sitting on a plane on the tarmac in Spain.

The airline said it the air traffic control issue was “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 the timescale for normal operations to resume,” it said.

Spokespeople for London Luton and Gatwick airports said they were aware of the issue, and urged customers to contact their airlines.

In Ireland, the air traffic control issues in the UK are “resulting in delays and cancellations to some flights into and out of Dublin Airport,” the airport told BBC News in a statement.

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