Passengers across the UK have been grappling with extensive delays and flight cancellations due to a “technical issue” that impacted the air traffic control systems in the country. This issue led to restrictions on the number of planes allowed to land, causing travelers both within the UK and abroad to face disruptions. While the technical problem was resolved within a few hours, airlines and airports have cautioned that significant delays are persisting.
National Air Traffic Services (NATS) acknowledged the fault around midday on Monday, revealing that flights would take some time to return to normal. Despite the swift resolution of the issue, airports like Heathrow reported substantial disruptions, and travelers were advised to check with their airlines before heading to the airport.
Airports like Gatwick and London Luton expressed their intentions to operate as per usual schedules on Tuesday, but passengers were encouraged to verify the status of their flights with the respective airlines before departure.
Affected airlines included British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and TUI, all of which experienced delays and cancellations. British Airways noted “significant and unavoidable delays and cancellations” and offered the option for customers to reschedule their flights free of charge to a later date.
Ryanair and Jet2 also faced flight delays and cancellations, with Jet2 advising passengers to proceed to the airport as planned unless instructed otherwise. Analysts warned that the fallout from this technical fault could extend for days, leading to ongoing disruptions and potentially affecting the week’s travel plans.
The technical glitch prompted concerns about knock-on disruptions, leading to calls for travelers to be aware of their rights if their flights are delayed or canceled. The UK Civil Aviation Authority has highlighted that airlines are responsible for providing necessities like food, drinks, and accommodations for overnight delays. Additionally, if flights are canceled, passengers should be given the option of a refund or alternative travel arrangements.
NATS confirmed that the incident was a “flight planning issue” affecting the automatic processing of flight plans. As a result, flight plans had to be handled manually, resulting in limited processing capacity and necessitating traffic flow restrictions.
While this type of technical issue is rare, the incident has highlighted the complexity of air traffic control systems and the potential for significant disruptions in the event of such faults. Airlines and authorities continue to work towards stabilizing operations and minimizing the impact on travelers.