Air Traffic Control Staff Shortage Disrupts Gatwick Flights
Flights Cancelled, Delayed, or Diverted Due to Lack of Air Traffic Control Staff
Gatwick Airport faced a disruption in its flight operations as a shortage of staff in air traffic control led to cancellations, delays, and diversions on Thursday evening. Passengers were advised to contact their respective airlines for information.
Social media reports included complaints from passengers, with one individual stating that their flight had been diverted to Bournemouth airport due to the disruptions at Gatwick.
Unwelcome Repeat of Air Traffic Control Issues
This incident comes as an unwelcome recurrence of air traffic control problems at Gatwick, following similar disruptions just a few weeks ago. Passengers and airlines alike have been adversely affected by these recurring issues.
National Air Traffic Services (Nats) acknowledged the situation, stating that air traffic control restrictions were imposed due to short-notice staff absences affecting the team at Gatwick Airport. They are collaborating with the airport to minimize disruption and have recruited new air traffic controllers to enhance resilience in the control tower.
Efforts to Address the Issue
Efforts have been made to address the situation, including recruiting additional air traffic controllers since the previous summer, increasing their presence by 17%. Further controllers are expected to start after completing their training as part of the agreed plan since Nats took over the contract in October.
Apologies from Nats and Gatwick Airport
Both Nats and Gatwick Airport issued apologies to passengers and airlines for the inconvenience caused by the disruptions. They emphasized their commitment to minimizing disruptions and building resilience in the airport’s control tower.
Previous Disruption and Calls for Legislative Action
This incident follows a technical glitch that affected the Nats control system for the entire UK on Bank Holiday Monday, August 28, resulting in widespread flight cancellations. Consumer group Which? expressed concern about the recurring disruptions and called for legislative action to grant the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) stronger enforcement powers to address such issues in the future.