Hundreds of thousands of airline passengers, face potential delays and cancellations on one of the busiest days of the year after the failure of air traffic control.
The Independent understands that the main control system belonging to Nats, the national air-traffic service, has failed. The organisation is based at Swanwick in Hampshire.
Aircraft on the ground are being held. Planes already in the air are likely to be diverted to airports on the continent.
Even if the fault is dealt with swiftly, disruption is expected for the rest of the day. UK aviation today is working at full stretch, with very little slack in the system particularly at Heathrow and Gatwick – respectively the busiest two-runway airport in the world and busiest single-runway airport.
Hundreds of thousands of passengers are due to be flying into the UK many of them families finishing their summer holidays in the Mediterranean and beyond.
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NATS, the national air traffic controllers, said in a statement: “We are currently experiencing a technical issue and have applied traffic flow restrictions to maintain safety. Engineers are working to find and the fix the fault.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”
Europe’s air traffic control agency, Eurocontrol, says Britain is “experiencing a flight data processing system failure” causing “very high” delays.
Airline Loganair posted on X, formerly known as Twitter: “There has been a network-wide failure of UK air traffic control computer systems this morning.
“Although we are hopeful of being able to operate most intra-Scotland flights on the basis of local coordination and with a minimum of disruption, north-south and international flights maybe subject to delays.
“If you are flying with us today, please check our website for the latest information about your flight before setting off for the airport.”
Broadcaster Gabby Logan is among those stuck on a flight after being informed that UK airspace is “shut”.
She tweeted: “On a plane on the runway at Budapest airport. After almost 3 weeks away from home I am hours from hugging my family. And have just been told UK airspace is shut. We could be here for 12…