Flights have been diverted from Gatwick Airport to Cardiff due to a shortage of air traffic control staff, the latest disruption to hit British air travel.
Thousands of passengers face cancellations, delays and potential diversions after a staffing issue prevented planes from landing Thursday evening.
A spokesperson for London Gatwick Airport said: “Due to a short-term absence of staff in the air traffic control tower, temporary air traffic control restrictions have been put in place this evening . This will cause some delays.
“London Gatwick would like to apologize to all passengers who have been affected by these restrictions. Please contact your airline for more information.
“NATS is a world-class air traffic services provider and senior management at London Gatwick recognizes how hard the airport’s air traffic controllers work to keep operations moving. We are working closely with NATS to strengthen the resilience of the airport control tower to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.
It comes after a single malicious flight plan caused the IT meltdown that led to thousands of flight cancellations last month.
The National Air Traffic Service (Nats) has revealed that a “technical issue” which led to more than 1,000 flight cancellations was due to “some of the flight data we received”.
Britain’s aviation watchdog has been accused of undermining efforts to upgrade the air traffic control system just weeks before it crashed and left thousands of Britons stranded, can reveal The Telegraph.
The National Air Traffic Service (NATS) is in dispute with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) over its budget, accusing the regulator of forcing a choice between smooth service and upgrading critical IT systems.
NATS accused the CAA of “delaying much-needed modernization of our physical infrastructure and airspace” after the regulator approved a less generous budget plan than expected.
The Ryanair boss has called on NATS CEO Martin Rolfe to resign in response to new air traffic control disruptions to flights.
It is the third time in two weeks that flights to and from Gatwick have suffered disruption due to an ongoing recruitment crisis at NATS, he said.
Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, urged the CAA to intervene to protect passengers from further disruption.
He said: “It is unacceptable that more flights and hundreds of passengers are experiencing delays to/from Gatwick Airport for the third time in just two weeks due to the blatant inability of the NATS CEO , Martin Rolfe, to properly staff British air traffic control.
Airlines pay millions of pounds to NATS every year and should not have to see their passengers suffer avoidable delays due to lack of ATC staff in the UK. We call on Martin Rolfe to resign immediately and give the position to someone competent enough to do so.”