Thousands face delays in and out of UK after widespread air traffic control issue 

uk air traffic

Hundreds of flights in and out of the UK have been cancelled and many more times that significantly delayed following a nationwide air traffic control issue that caused UK aviation to grind to a near halt.

A flight planning issue that meant flight plans had to be managed manually began causing problems for airlines and airports sometime in the morning of Monday 28th August, and it wasn’t long before every major airport in the UK had been similarly affected. 

Although now remedied, as confirmed by the UK’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) at 3.15pm BST, the prolonged delay in getting schedules back up and running properly has meant that thousands of Britain-bound flights as well as those heading overseas have either been severely delayed or cancelled altogether.  

“Sincerely sorry” 

“The flight planning issue affected the system’s ability to automatically process flight plans, meaning that flight plans had to be processed manually which cannot be done at the same volume, hence the requirement for traffic flow restrictions,” reads a statement from NATS. “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… We are now working closely with airlines and airports to manage the flights affected as efficiently as possible. Our engineers will be carefully monitoring the system’s performance as we return to normal operations… Please contact your airline for information on how this may affect your flight.” 

Hundreds of flights cancelled 

According to data from aviation analytics firm Cirium, by 2.30pm BST, 232 flights or 8% of all departures from the UK had been cancelled. 271 flights or 9% of all arrivals into UK airports had also been cancelled. 

Locally, several flights destined for the UK have been scrapped, predominately flights heading to London airports. All flights to the capital until at least 8.45pm are appearing as cancelled on the official Nice Côte d’Azur website. For flights heading elsewhere in the UK, many passengers to regional airports are facing long waits inside the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport terminals or out on the tarmac, as well as cancellations. 

It is a similar story for British flights heading to the Riviera, with widespread delays and cancellations appearing on the information boards of Nice’s airport.  

Although things are slowing getting back to normal, the delays are predicted to continue well into Tuesday 29th August, causing considerable problems for the many international passengers hoping to enjoy the last few days of the summer holidays either at home or on holiday.  


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Photo source: Tomek Baginski, Unsplash