Flight disruptions have rolled over into the next day after a technical problem significantly reduced the volume of flights to and from the United Kingdom (UK) on the summer bank holiday.
Airlines and airports have warned passengers that potential disruptions could continue on August 29, 2023, a day after NATS, the ATC provider for the UK, suffered a technical issue with its systems.
“Flights may be subject to delay or cancellation as a result of yesterday’s technical issues with Air Traffic Control systems across UK airspace,” London Luton Airport (LTN) said in a statement published to X (formerly known as Twitter) on August 29, 2023.
In a statement published to X on the same day, London Heathrow Airport (LHR) noted that “there may be some continuing disruption on some routes, including flight cancellations”.
“It is important for all passengers to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport and for those passengers who need to rebook to contact their airline directly rather than travelling to Heathrow,” the statement continued.
“Like other airlines operating in the UK, we are continuing to experience the knock-on effects of yesterday’s NATS Air Traffic Control issue, which includes unavoidable delays and cancellations,” a British Airways spokesperson said in an email to AeroTime.
“Customers travelling today on short-haul services can move their flight to a later date free of charge if they wish, subject to availability,” the spokesperson continued.
According to an airport disruption map on Flightdar24.com, while flights to UK airports have been arriving with few delays, departures from several airports within the country have been impacted.
London-Gatwick Airport (LGW) and Belfast International Airport (BFS) are continuing to experience major problems, while Glasgow International Airport (GLA), Manchester International Airport (MAN), Birmingham Airport (BHX), Bristol Airport (BRS), LHR, and Ireland’s Dublin Airport (DUB) have witnessed “minor problems with some delays or few cancelations”.
Meanwhile, EUROCONTROL’s Network Operations Portal (NOP) warned of some delays at airports across the UK, with a map showing delays of up to 15 and 30 minutes for certain areas of the country at the time of writing. In its latest tactical update at 7:00 am UTC, the company did not highlight any “moderate to high delays” within the UK airspace.
NATS encountered issues with its systems on August 28, 2023. In an initial statement at 12:10 pm local time (UTC +1) on August 28, 2023, the company said that it was “experiencing a technical issue” and has “applied traffic flow restrictions to maintain safety”.
In an update provided later the same day at 2:20 pm local time (UTC +1), the ATC provider clarified that the problem affected its ability to automatically process flight plans, forcing controllers to input flight plans manually. As such, the company had to restrict the flow of traffic from and to the UK.
The problem was fixed by 3:15 pm local time (UTC +1), with NATS saying that it had “identified and remedied the technical affecting our flight planning system this morning”.