Flights in and out of Britain will be disrupted for several days, the UK government said on Tuesday, after a technical issue with the country’s air traffic control system left thousands of passengers stranded. abroad or face severe delays.
About 280 flights were canceled on Tuesday, about 5 percent of the total scheduled to leave or arrive in Britain, according to Cirium, an aviation analytics company, which compiles travel problems for British holidaymakers. after more than a thousand flights were canceled the day before.
The problem comes at a particularly busy time for travelers in Britain, many of whom are returning home from summer vacations or long weekends because Monday is a public holiday in the country.
“The timing is not helpful for people,” Mark Harper, the government minister responsible for transport policy, told the BBC on Tuesday morning. “This is disturbing thousands of people. Many flights were canceled yesterday due to the need to keep the system safe, and it will take several days to get everything fully back to where they should be.”
He added that the government’s technical experts had concluded that the episode was not a cyberattack.
Britain’s National Air Traffic Service, which runs air traffic control, said on Monday that the failure of the automated system that processes plane routes meant that, for several hours, flight plans had to be manually – enter manually.
When air traffic control issues arise, the priority is to safely land planes already in the air, experts say, forcing hundreds of flights to be temporarily grounded or canceled. They added that delays continued Tuesday in part because aircraft and crews were not in position.
Juliet Kennedy, the air traffic service’s director of operations, apologized in a video Monday night, adding that “it will take some time for flights to return to normal.” He said the company would thoroughly investigate what caused the glitch.
Passengers are encouraged to check their flight status with their airline before traveling to the airport.