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UK air traffic control chaos to last for ‘days’

Travelers have been warned that the chaos brought about by a UK air traffic control failure earlier this week will continue for days.

During an interview on Tuesday, Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary for the UK acknowledged that the “technical issue,” which lasted for several hours, had impacted thousands of passengers and would last for “some days.”

“Lots of flights were canceled and it is going to take some days to get people back to where they should be,” Harper told the BBC.

The news comes as passengers headed to or from the UK faced “significant delays,” or flight cancellations after Britain’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) flight planning system experienced a “network-wide failure.”

The fault came on the last day of a summer public holiday weekend in the UK, meaning many vacationers would be affected.

Although NATS confirmed in a statement yesterday that the glitch had been “identified and remedied,” the disruption caused by the failure, which led to the cancelation of at least 790 departures and 785 flight arrivals at British airports, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium, is continuing.

After waiting at the airport for an update, Palladino, who lives in the UK, was informed that the flight was canceled.

While Palladino was able to get on to another flight scheduled to leave on Tuesday, and had a place to stay overnight, she explains that some of her fellow passengers had resolved to stay at the airport.

“I feel very lucky,” she says.

Meanwhile, traveler Lee Vanstone, who is based in the UK, shared a photo of fellow passengers waiting at Pisa Airport on Monday after his flight was delayed, and then canceled, on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

“There is no flights for days,” he wrote. “We have been searching from various locations. “We are stranded here. Found somewhere to sleep tonight.”

Several UK airports and airlines have issued statements notifying passengers of potential delays today due to the knock-on effect of the glitch.

“Due to yesterday’s technical issues suffered by UK Air Traffic Control, there may be some continuing disruption on some routes, including flight cancellations,” reads a statement from London’s Heathrow Airport on Tuesday.

The UK’s second-busiest airport Gatwick stated on Tuesday that while it “plans to operate a normal schedule,” passengers should “check the status of their flight with the airline before traveling to the airport.”

London Gatwick plans to operate a normal schedule on Tuesday 29 August following disruption today (28 August). Passengers are however advised to check the status of their flight with the airline before travelling to the airport.

— London Gatwick LGW (@Gatwick_Airport) August 28, 2023

Various airlines, including easyJet and British Airways, are also advising passengers to or from the UK to check the status of their flight before going to the airport.

“We have identified and remedied the technical issue affecting our flight planning system this morning,” a statement on NATS’ website said on Monday.

“We are now working closely with airlines and airports to manage the flights affected as efficiently as possible.

“Our priority is always to ensure that every flight in the UK remains safe and we are sincerely sorry for the disruption this is causing. Please contact your airline for information on how this may affect your flight,” it added.

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