Nats Swanwick system failure: Air traffic chaos caused by too little investment, says Cable

Passengers line up in Terminal Three as they wait for delayed flights at Heathrow Airport (Source: Getty)

Business secretary Vince Cable has accused the UK’s National Air Traffic Service (Nats) of “skimping on large-scale investment” after an IT glitch led to widespread disruption across UK airports.

The Lib Dem politician told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “In agencies like Nats, as in the banks in the private sector, they’ve been skimping on large-scale investment for very many years. Often the easy thing to do under financial pressure is to be penny wise and pound foolish and to forgo capital investment.”
Cable said the end result was that “they’ve got very ancient computer systems which then crash.
“I think the lesson for future, in both the private and public sector is we do have to maintain a high level of capital investment.”
Cable’s comments followed airport chaos on Friday after problems caused by a computer malfunction at Nats’ Swanwick centre.
Nats chief executive Richard Deakin said a single faulty line of code in one computer system caused the glitch, which resulted in dozens of flights being delayed or cancelled, including almost 40 cancellations at Heathrow.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, who called the problem “unacceptable”, is likely to face questions from MPs on the issue when he appears before the Transport Select Committee today.

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