All flights to and from the UK were affected, including Portugal where several departures were cancelled.
The problem has been resolved, but a technical problem with the UK’s air traffic control systems will continue to have negative effects on the various flights affected this Monday.
Passengers on flights from countries across Europe were warned of the possibility of major delays to their journeys in the busiest days of the year, with summer holidays coming to an end for many Britons.
In Portugal, at least five flights from Lisbon and four flights from Faro to the United Kingdom were canceled during the afternoon.
The situation, though already resolved, will have repercussions as airport runways are blocked by aircraft not authorized to take off.
FlightRadar24 has published an image showing hundreds of aircraft circling UK airspace.
NATS, the UK’s air traffic control body, said in a statement: “We are currently experiencing a technical problem and have deployed traffic controls to maintain safety. Engineers are working to identify and correct the fault. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”
A further statement was issued clarifying that UK airspace is not closed, but restricted.
Many affected passengers reported on social media that they were stranded on the runways of various airports in “taxi” flights. Others revealed watching planes take off and land at British airports.
How are passengers affected?
One user sat on the tarmac at Budapest Airport and said his flight to the UK could be delayed by 12 hours.
Another passenger booked a flight from Liverpool to Belfast, which was delayed by seven hours, and shared a notice sent by Easyjet, informing him of an “air traffic control issue” affecting “all flights to or from UK airspace”.
Do I need to go to the airport anyway?
Before heading to the airport, check your airline’s app, website and social media for the latest information.
You should also check the departure and arrival website of the airport you will be using for information.
For flights within Europe, it is best not to arrive at the airport 2-3 hours before the flight to avoid crowds.
What is the airline’s advice?
Easyjet issued a statement to passengers: “We are working with the relevant authorities to understand the impact of this issue and the timeframe for resuming normal operations.”
Passengers already on board will be informed by the crew.
Passengers waiting to board at the airport were advised to check the flight information screens in the terminal and the airline’s flight tracker app and website.
British Airways said in a statement: “We are working closely with NATS [Serviços britânicos de Tráfego Aéreo] We will continue to update our customers with the latest information to understand the impact of the technical issue affecting UK airspace.”
Air traffic controllers at London’s Heathrow, England’s busiest airport, have been forced to reduce the frequency with which planes can land.
Normally, planes land about once every 90 seconds, but to stop using the digital system and start using a more analog system, and manually land the plane, arrivals slow down and become even more delayed. Forcing the cancellation of departures or excess flights.