Britain’s National Air Traffic Service (NATS) was hit by a technical problem for several hours on Monday, causing widespread disruption to flights in the country’s airspace, a situation that airlines said and airports will stop for a certain time.
NATS previously had to restrict air travel after the problem affected its system’s ability to automatically process flight schedules, warning both airlines and flight terminals of delays and cancellations.
“We identified and resolved the technical issue affecting our flight planning system this morning. We are now working closely with airlines and airports to manage affected flights as efficiently as possible,” NATS said in a statement.
“Our engineers will carefully monitor system performance as we return to normal operations.”
British Transport Secretary Mark Harper said he was working with NATS to help manage affected flights and support passengers.
Previously, Irish air traffic control provider AirNav Ireland said the problem, which occurred during a public holiday in some parts of the UK, had caused “significant delays to flights across Europe”.
A spokesman for London’s Heathrow, Western Europe’s busiest airport, said flight schedules would remain significantly changed for the rest of the day.
“We ask passengers to only travel to the airport if their flight is confirmed to be operational. Heathrow teams are working as hard as possible to minimize side effects and help those whose journeys are affected,” the spokesman said.
British Airways said its flights were significantly disrupted and that it had made “relevant changes” to its schedules, while other airlines, including Ryanair, also reported that some flights to and from the UK were delayed or canceled.