LONDON, Aug 28 (Reuters) – Britain’s National Aviation Service (NATS) was hit by a technical glitch for several hours on Monday, causing widespread disruption to flights using UK airspace, which airlines and airports said would continue for some time despite the problem. corrected.
NATS had to restrict the flow of flights earlier as airlines and airports warned of delays and cancellations, affecting the system’s ability to automatically process flight plans.
“We have identified and fixed a technical issue affecting our flight scheduling system this morning. We are now working closely with airlines and airports to manage affected flights as efficiently as possible,” NATS said in a statement.
“Our engineers will carefully monitor system performance as we return to normal operations.”
British Transport Minister Mark Harper said he was working with NATS to manage the affected flights and help passengers.
Earlier Irish air traffic control provider AirNav Ireland said the problem, which occurred during a public holiday in parts of Britain, was “causing significant delays to flights across Europe traveling from or through UK airspace”.
A spokesman for London Heathrow, Western Europe’s busiest hub, said schedules would be significantly affected for the rest of the day.
“We ask passengers to only go to the airport if they are sure their flight is still operating. The teams at Heathrow are working as hard as they can to minimize knock-on impacts and help those whose journeys are affected,” the spokesman said.
British Airways said its flights were severely disrupted and had made “significant changes” to its schedule, while other airlines, including Ryanair, said some flights to and from the UK would be delayed or cancelled.
Manchester Airport, London Stansted and London Gatwick were among several UK airports warned of delays and cancellations, while Dublin Airport saw delays and cancellations of some flights in and out of the Irish capital as a result of the issue.
Many passengers reported on social media that they were stuck on planes on the tarmac waiting for their departures or crammed into airport buildings in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Israel and elsewhere on what is traditionally a busy travel day as school holidays arrive. to close a.
A Reuters witness, who was held up on the tarmac in Budapest for two hours before disembarking, told passengers they could face delays of 8 to 12 hours.
Reporting by Kylie McClellan, additional reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Louise Heavens, Jason Neely, Alison Williams and Alex Richardson
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