The UK’s air traffic control system has encountered a significant “network failure” on one of the busiest days of the year, leading to widespread disruptions for travelers that could extend for days. The National Air Traffic Services (NATS) in Britain has reported “technical issues” that have necessitated controllers to decrease the rate at which flights can land and take off.
This has resulted in numerous flights experiencing delays, both inbound and outbound, with an average delay of approximately three hours. Travel expert Simon Calder has noted that this system outage is likely to cause significant “misery” for passengers, and its impact could potentially spread across Europe.
Calder has advised travelers to “assume” that their flights are operating as usual, but he predicts that airlines will likely be required to provide substantial compensation for the disruptions caused. Personalities like TV presenter Gabby Logan have been affected by this shutdown, with reports of passengers being stranded on runways. The cause of the failure has not been disclosed by NATS, nor has an estimated timeline for resolution been provided.
Calder has indicated that the lack of flexibility within the system is problematic, and he foresees a difficult scenario for air traffic. He has explained that air traffic controllers might have to manually control landings with a less frequent rate due to the digital system outage. While Calder doesn’t believe there will be safety concerns due to the designed contingency plans, he has warned that the disruption is unwelcome during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
Reports from travelers already reflect the chaos unfolding due to the shutdown. Loganair, a Scottish airline, first disclosed the news of the network-wide failure on their Twitter account. They indicated that intra-Scotland flights might be operated with minimal disruption, but flights traveling between north and south, as well as international flights, could experience delays. The situation has left many travelers frustrated and inconvenienced, and NATS has apologized for the inconvenience while they work to identify and fix the fault causing the disruption.