UK airspace hit by failure of air traffic control systems - as BA 'cancels all domestic and European flights until 6pm'

28 August 2023, 12:08 | Updated: 30 August 2023, 06:36

Have you been affected by delays? Get in touch kieran.kelly@global.com

Thousands of passengers will be affected by flight delays
Thousands of passengers will be affected by flight delays. Picture: Getty/Alamy/FlightRadar24/social media
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

There has been a network-wide failure of UK air traffic control systems, the country's leading service provider has said, causing the cancellation of at least 500 flights.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

NATS, the national air traffic controllers, said in a statement: "We are currently experiencing a technical issue and have applied traffic flow restrictions to maintain safety.

"Engineers are working to find and the fix the fault.

"We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause."

A spokesperson for NATS confirmed UK airspace is not closed, with air traffic flow restrictions in place in order to maintain safety.

But LBC has been told that British Airways has cancelled all domestic and European flights until at least 6pm due to the issue.

There is no indication on when normal travel service will resume.

According to data from aviation analytics firm Cirium as of 14:30pm today, more than 500 flights have been cancelled due to the technical issue, around 8.5 per cent of arrivals and departures.

This does not include flights that have been delayed.

British Airways plane
British Airways plane. Picture: Getty

According to aviation analyst Alex Macheras, even just a few minutes of a system failure would cause significant travel chaos.

“This is going to be significant. In fact, it already is and that’s because this is a system failure with the UK’s air traffic control service provider," Mr Macheras told LBC's Sangita Myska.

"They are responsible for handling and managing the UK’s air traffic control across UK airspace, on of the busiest airspaces across all of Europe."

He added that the worst affected by the system failure will be "flights not yet departed or are abroad and preparing to depart to the UK".

"It only takes a few minutes of this type of outage to rack up significant delays. We are now over the hour mark. If [you’re] aircraft has not yet taken off, expect significant disruption," he added.

UK passengers are facing extreme delays
UK passengers are facing extreme delays. Picture: Getty

Heathrow, the UK's biggest airport, has said it is "working closely" with NATS and other airports to "minimise the impact" on passengers.

“As a result of national airspace issues there is disruption to flights across the UK," a spokesperson for the airport said.

"Passengers are advised to check with their airline for the latest information. We are working closely with NATS and other airport partners to minimise the impact this has on passengers.

Read More: Exact date 10-day heatwave to hit UK after washout Bank Holiday weekend

Dozens of passengers have reported delays of around three to five hours.

Meanwhile, TV presenter Gabby Logan said she faces 12 hour delays as she returns from Budapest.

She wrote: "After almost 3 weeks away from home I am hours from hugging my family. And have just been told UK airspace is shut.

"We could be here for 12 hours. So we sit on the plane and wait."

Read More: Passengers injured as UK cruise ship crashes into freight vessel due to high winds in Mallorca

Posting on Twitter, a spokesperson for Loganair said: "There has been a network-wide failure of UK air traffic control computer systems this morning.

"Although we are hopeful of being able to operate most intra-Scotland flights on the basis of local coordination and with a minimum of disruption, north-south and international flights may be subject to delays.

Passengers face a full day of delays
Passengers face a full day of delays. Picture: Getty

"If you are flying with us today, please check our website for the latest information about your flight before setting off for the airport," they added.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for British Airways said: "We are working closely with NATS to understand the impact of a technical issue that is affecting UK airspace, and will keep our customers up to date with the latest information."

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Prime Minister to convene a Cobra meeting after a technical fault hit air traffic control in the UK.

Transport spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said: "Rishi Sunak and his ministers need to get a grip on this issue urgently and hold a Cobra meeting.

"Millions of holidaymakers could be facing huge disruption in the coming days due to this fault and we can't risk this Government being missing in action yet again.

"Brits need to know that the Government is doing all it can to make sure people aren't hit with major delays and disruptions in the coming days."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Joe Biden reacts to the assassination attempt of Donald Trump

‘Everyone must condemn it’: Joe Biden labels Donald Trump assassination attempt ‘sick’ as world leaders react

Donald Trump was shot at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania yesterday

Bloodied Donald Trump rushed off stage after shooting as FBI names dead gunman behind assassination attempt

Donald Trump's ear was grazed in a shooting at a campaign rally yesterday

‘Much bleeding took place’: Donald Trump releases new statement after being shot at campaign rally

President Trump was shot at a rally in Pennsylvania

Donald Trump carried off stage by Secret Service after shooting at campaign rally

American XL bully

Police raid suspected XL Bully farm and arrest man as 13 dogs seized inside house with children

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer has told the England team that they have "made the country proud" before their crunch Euros final against Spain on Sunday.

'Bring it home': Keir Starmer sends message to England team ahead of showpiece Euros final against Spain

spanhoe airfield near corby main runway

Pilot killed in plane crash at former RAF airfield near Corby as police urge witnesses to come forward

A child is dead and five people have been injured after a house fire in East Ham, London.

Child dead after deadly blaze that injured five which gutted east London home and needed 40 firefighters to tackle

Daniel Halliday went missing while playing in the water with his brother on June 30.

Body found in the sea confirmed to be 14-year-old Daniel Halliday who was swept away in River Mersey on June 30

A Scottish council has come under fire for handing almost 2,000 penalties in the first 11 days of its low emission zone

Scottish council under fire after handing out 2,000 fines in first 11 days of new low emission zone

Graziano Di Prima has broken his silence

Strictly Come Dancing pro Graziano Di Prima breaks silence after being 'sacked' following misconduct claims

Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer Graziano Di Prima has been sacked by the BBC

Strictly Come Dancing pro 'sacked' after claims of gross misconduct towards former partner Zara McDermott

Prince William will be at the game on Sunday

‘Just one last push’: Prince William’s message to the England team ahead of Euro 2024 final against Spain

The family of the three women who were killed in a crossbow attack have said they are "devastated"

‘We are devastated’, John Hunt and surviving daughter say, after his wife and two daughters killed in crossbow attack

At least 71 Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli air strike

‘Dozens killed in air strike on Gaza humanitarian zone’ as Israel says it was targeting Hamas leaders

The Princess of Wales is set to attend the Wimbledon Men's final

Princess of Wales to attend Wimbledon men's singles final in second public appearance since cancer diagnosis