Flights at Gatwick Airport have been disrupted, with 40 cancellations and hundreds of delays, due to a shortage of air traffic controllers. The cancellations began at 16:30 BST and continued throughout the day. The airport has since apologized for the inconvenience and has brought in an additional air traffic controller to help improve the situation.
National Air Traffic Services (Nats), the organization responsible for air traffic control in the UK, stated that they are working to minimize disruption and offered their sincere apologies to affected passengers. However, Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary, called on Nats’ CEO, Martin Rolfe, to resign, blaming him for the delays and calling them “unacceptable.”
Gatwick Airport confirmed that 22 departures and 18 arrivals were cancelled. Flight tracker data showed that many more flights were delayed, with an average delay time of 76 minutes. Throughout the day, a total of 321 flights were scheduled to land and 381 to take off.
Gatwick Airport stated that they have been recruiting new air traffic controllers since the summer of 2022 and that more are due to start once they complete their training. They assured airlines that this was part of the agreed plan when Nats took over the contract.
Passengers affected by the disruptions were urged to contact their airlines for information and support. Gatwick Airport is working closely with Nats to improve resilience in the control tower and minimize future disruptions.
Overall, the situation at Gatwick Airport is gradually improving, but the incident highlights the importance of having an adequate number of air traffic controllers to ensure smooth operations and minimize delays.
– BBC News