British Transport Minister Mark Harper has said it would take days to resolve the widespread disruption to flights into and out of the country after air traffic control systems were hit by a technical problem.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed on Monday – one of the country’s busiest travel days – after air traffic controllers were forced to switch to manual systems.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
Harper added that government officials did not believe the technical problem was the result of a cyberattack.
“There is going to be some knock-on impact today and I suspect for another few days as airlines get their planes and get their services back to normal,” Harper told the BBC on Tuesday.
“I know how frustrating this is for passengers, I’ve had flights cancelled myself before. It is very frustrating, and the airline does have a responsibility to look after their passengers and accommodate them and get them on another flight if necessary,” he added.
Aviation analytics firm Cirium said that by Monday afternoon, 232 flights due to leave UK airports and 271 arriving flights had been cancelled.
Many took to social media to share their dismay at the technical issue and said they were stuck on the plane tarmac waiting to take off or being held in airports.
Dozens of flights were cancelled at Heathrow, Europe’s busiest air hub, which warned of “knock-on impacts”.
At least 32 departures from Heathrow were cancelled on Tuesday, and 31 arrivals were axed.
On Monday, NATS Operations Director Juliet Kennedy said: “It [the breakdown] was fixed earlier this afternoon. However, it will take some time for flights to return to normal, and we will continue to work with the airlines and the airports to recover the situation.”
“Our absolute priority is safety, and we will be investigating very thoroughly what happened today.”
Heathrow airport, Britain’s busiest hub, told passengers on X, formally known as Twitter, to contact their airline before travelling to the airport on Tuesday.
Airlines have said that they were changing flight schedules to try and fly as many people as possible, but some planes and crews were not where they should be.