At least 500 UK Flights Cancelled Due to Air Traffic Control IT Failure

At least 500 UK Flights Cancelled Due to Air Traffic Control IT Failure


Thousands of UK travelers faced disruptions as a major IT failure hit the national air traffic control system, causing flight cancellations and delays. On one of the busiest travel days of the year, up to 80% of flights departing from the UK were delayed due to the failure.

The UK’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) reported “technical issues” that forced controllers to switch from an automated system to manual processing of flight plans.

The manual input of flight plans led to traffic flow restrictions.

While NATS stated there was no indication of a cyberattack, the failure caused significant disruptions.

As per Flight Radar data, the majority of flights leaving major airports like Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, and Bristol were delayed, with cancellations affecting approximately 8% of all departures and 9% of arrivals.


Travelers returning from various destinations, including Tenerife, were told to expect extended wait times.

Industry experts expressed concern over the long-lasting failure, noting that the exact duration of the disruption remained uncertain.

Travel expert Simon Calder advised passengers to assume their flights were operating normally unless informed otherwise. He emphasized the potential for misery for passengers and the broader impact across Europe.

Gabby Logan, a TV presenter, shared her experience of being stranded on a plane at Budapest Airport due to the airspace shutdown.

NATS released a statement later, stating that the issue had been resolved.


Home Secretary Suella Braverman advised affected passengers to contact their airlines for more information.

Compensation and Passenger Rights Amid the Chaos

As travelers grappled with delays and cancellations, questions arose about compensation and passenger rights.

The disruption was expected to spread across Europe, affecting flights leaving and entering the UK.

Those affected were left wondering if they could claim compensation for the inconvenience.

Citizens Advice provided guidance on compensation eligibility based on factors such as the departure or arrival location and the airline involved.


According to EU Regulation EC 261/2004, passengers may be eligible for compensation if their flight is delayed for a certain duration and the delay is due to the airline’s fault.

Compensation amounts varied based on the duration of the delay and the distance traveled.

Passengers were advised to reach out to the relevant airline for compensation claims.

While some insurance policies might cover delays, evidence of incurred costs such as accommodations and alternative transportation would be necessary.

Despite the challenges posed by the disruption, many passengers were left frustrated by the lack of communication and support from airlines during the ordeal.


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