Friday, 1 Mar 2024

UK flight delays 'will get worse before they get better' with thousands stranded

Nearly 10% of all flights departing and arriving at UK airports were delayed on Monday – and disruption could continue for days, it’s been warned.

The bank holiday was plagued with travel delays after an air traffic control technical fault disrupted hundreds of flights in and out of the UK.

The fault meant flight plans had to be input manually by controllers.

By Monday afternoon, 232 departures from the UK and 271 arrivals had been cancelled, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium.

This equates to about 8% of expected departures and 9% of arrivals.

Have you been caught up the air traffic chaos? Get in touch at [email protected]

In total, however, it’s thought up to 1,200 flights could have been cancelled on Monday, affecting up to 200,000 passengers.

Travel expert Simon Calder has also weighed in with advice for holidaymakers, telling BBC Breakfast on Tuesday morning: ‘There are up to 200,000 people waking up this morning where they didn’t expect to be.

‘For some of them it’s not clear when they’re going to get back, and I’m afraid things are going to get worse before they get better.

‘Looking at the cancellations today, both British Airways mainly out of Heathrow, and easyJet mainly out of Gatwick, have cancelled 60 flights each or so.

‘RyanAir has 20 cancellations today, although many more yesterday.

‘That represents another 20,000 people who were booked to travel today and won’t be able to, let alone all the people who were desperately trying to get back.’

National Air Traffic Services (Nats), the country’s leading provider of air traffic control, said at 3.15pm on Monday that it had ‘identified and remedied’ the technical issue affecting its systems and it was working with airlines and airports to support affected flights.

A spokesman for Nats also apologised for the impact on people’s travel plans.

Passengers have been urged to check flight details with their airlines before leaving for the airport, as flight times may have been changed.

Heathrow Airport said on Monday night: “We apologise for any inconvenience as a result of the Nats technical issues today.

‘The issue has been resolved however schedules remain significantly disrupted.

‘If you are travelling on 29th August, please ensure you contact your airline before travelling to the airport.’

Gatwick said it plans to operate a normal schedule on Tuesday, but advised passengers to ‘check the status of their flight with the airline before travelling to the airport’.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper says the government does not believe the fault was caused by a cybersecurity incident.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

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