Thousands of passengers have been left stranded at the UK’s major airports after technical problems at the air traffic control centre which resulted in hundreds of flight delays and cancellations.
The problems at National Air Traffic Services’ (Nats) control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire, have resulted in delays of up to two hours and a fifth of flights being cancelled at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick airports.
NATS air traffic control said in a statement: “Due to a technical problem at Swanwick we are currently experiencing some difficulty switching from night-time to daytime operation.
“At night, when it’s quiet, we can combine sectors of airspace. When it gets busy in the daytime we split the sectors out again. The voice communications system is configured to enable this to happen.
“We experienced a technical problem in the early hours of this morning, which means that it hasn’t been possible to reconfigure the voice communications system to split out the sectors for the busier daytime traffic in some areas of the UK en route airspace.
“Engineers are working to rectify the problem as soon as possible, but this is resulting in some delays. Safety has not been compromised at any time, and we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience being caused to passengers.”
The issue has also affected UK-bound flights from Ireland and Europe.