London airports are grappling with continued “significant disruption” to flights on Tuesday following the first nationwide air traffic control technical glitch in almost ten years. Travelers have been urged to verify their flight status with airlines prior to reaching the airport, as delays and cancellations persist into a second day.
Thousands of passengers, both in the UK and abroad, found themselves stranded on Monday night due to the technical failure that affected airspace across the UK. The aviation analytics company Cirium reported that over 1,500 departing and arriving flights were canceled, constituting around 27% of the originally planned flights.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper informed Sky News that a technical malfunction of this magnitude hadn’t occurred “for almost a decade.” He also indicated that while the system typically functions well, efforts will be made to prevent such disruptions in the future.
Despite the scale of the issue, there is no indication that the technical problem resulted from a cyber attack. Harper announced that an independent review, overseen by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), is scheduled for the “coming days.”
Heathrow Airport conveyed that flight schedules continue to experience “significant disruption” on Tuesday. Passengers intending to travel on August 29 were advised to contact their airlines before heading to the airport.
Luton Airport echoed similar warnings of potential delays or cancellations on Tuesday. In contrast, Gatwick and Stansted airports stated their intention to maintain normal flight schedules.
All London airports strongly recommended that passengers confirm their flight status before embarking to the airport.
Heathrow Airport encountered at least 32 departures and 31 arrivals canceled on Tuesday, with British Airways being the most affected. Similarly, Gatwick Airport reported 23 departures and 51 arrivals canceled on the same day.
National Air Traffic Services (Nats), the leading provider of air traffic control in the UK, announced at 3:15 pm on Monday that it had “identified and remedied” the technical issue. Nats has been collaborating with airlines and airports to support the impacted flights.
Frustration among stranded passengers in the UK and abroad has been palpable, as many are left uncertain about their travel plans. Major UK airlines, including Tui and British Airways, issued warnings of “significant delays” for passengers due to changes in flight schedules.