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More travel chaos after 300,000 hit by cancellations and French error blamed for air traffic mayhem

More travel chaos after 300,000 hit by cancellations and French error blamed for air traffic mayhem

Passengers hit by the air traffic control meltdown face being stranded abroad for up to a week, as it emerged that an incorrectly-filed flight plan by a French airline may have triggered the outage.

Around 300,000 airline passengers have now been hit by flight cancellations since the hours-long failure of the Nats system on bank holiday Monday. The knock-on effect is set to last for several more days, as under-pressure airlines battle the backlog in a week where millions are already returning to the UK from their summer holidays.

Several sources say the issue may have been caused when a French airline filed a dodgy flight plan that made no digital sense. Instead of the error being rejected, it prompted a shutdown of the entire Nats system – raising questions over how one clerical error could cause such mayhem.

No 10 did not rule out that the reported inputting error could be the cause of the disruption. It has launched an independent review into the incident, which caused more than a quarter of flights at UK airports to be cancelled on Monday.

It came as:

  • Transport Secretary Mark Harper held an emergency meeting with airlines after calling the incident was the “worst of its kind” in a decade
  • No 10 warned airlines they must do everything to “get customers back to where they should be”
  • Flight data showed around 300 flights affecting around 50,000 passengers were cancelled at the UK’s six busiest airports on Tuesday
  • Many others were significantly delayed with a BA flight from Heathrow to Chennai in India departing 26 hours late
  • It was estimated the shutdown could cost the UK aviation industry around £80m

Asked if officials would speak to counterparts across the English Channel, Mr Sunak’s spokesman said “you would expect them to be speaking regularly” with other countries “but I’m not aware of any specific conversations with French counterparts”.

The travel disruption could still last for days. Pictured: A woman waits for flight information at Heathrow


He added that experts had confirmed it was a “technical issue, not a cybersecurity incident”.

Some passengers stranded overseas as a result of the shutdown told The Independent they had only been offered alternative flights for a week’s time, with one couple on a flight which does not depart Portugal until next Monday.

Martin Andrew Lavelle told said they had…

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