On Thursday, flights at Gatwick Airport experienced cancellations, delays, and sudden diversions due to a shortage of air traffic controllers. By 22:00 BST, Gatwick confirmed 22 cancellations, while FlightRadar24 reported hundreds of flight disruptions at the airport.
The National Air Traffic Services (Nats) issued an apology for the staffing shortages. Gatwick Airport, however, anticipated a return to normal operations on Friday.
This disruption follows a technical issue at Nats just over two weeks ago, resulting in the cancellation of 2,000 flights across the UK. Airlines such as EasyJet expressed frustration with Thursday’s delays and cancellations, while Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, called for the resignation of Nats’ CEO, Martin Rolfe, citing inadequate staffing as the cause of avoidable delays.
Travelers were inconvenienced as flights were diverted and delayed. Laura Neary, whose flight from Gatwick to Dublin was diverted to London Stansted, had to travel to her intended destination by coach. Passengers voiced their concerns and frustrations on social media about the unexpected changes to their travel plans.
Julia Lo Blue-Said, CEO of Advantage Travel Partnership, emphasized the significant financial implications of such disruptions on the travel sector and the difficulties faced by travelers.
Gatwick Airport acknowledged the hard work of its air traffic controllers and their collaboration with Nats to minimize disruptions while building resilience in the airport’s control tower.
Nats, while acknowledging the airlines’ awareness of the situation when Nats was appointed, sincerely apologized to passengers and airlines affected by recent disruptions at London Gatwick.