Friday 26 July 2019 3:47 pm

Air traffic control error causes flight delays at Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports

An issue with the UK’s air traffic control system failure caused flight delays at most of London’s airports this afternoon.

Nats, the body in charge of the UK’s air traffic control, admitted a “technical problem” had caused issues at the Swanwick Air Traffic Control centre, leading to “flight restrictions”.

Read more: Train delays hit commuters across UK after heatwave

“We are doing all we can to fix it as soon as possible,” a spokesperson added.

Meanwhile Gatwick Airport warned that it and “all other London airports” have been forced into delaying and cancelling flights.

“Flights to and from Gatwick and other London airports are subject to delays and cancellations, due to a technical issue with Air Traffic Control,” Gatwick tweeted.

“We advise anyone travelling today to check the latest information on their flight with their airline.”

Many London airports, including Heathrow and Gatwick, are still recovering from flight cancellations and delays caused by thunderstorms last night. 

Eurocontrol – Nats’ European equivalent – blamed an “issue with radar displays” for the technical malfunction.

It warned there will be a “high” levels of delays for flights landing at Heathrow and Gatwick.

London City Airport and Luton airport were also affected.

Concerned passengers tweeted Gatwick Airport’s social media account for more answers.

Gatwick acknowledged that both the technical malfunctions and the thunder and lightning were to blame.

“It’s a knock on from this morning and also now issues with NATS radar which is affecting all London airports,” Gatwick tweeted.

The airport confirmed to City A.M. that it has had 42 cancellations over the past day.

London Luton Airport, meanwhile, saw 10 per cent of its flights cancelled due to the weather.

“I can understand your frustration. Unfortunately we had thunderstorms last night which caused disruption that has knock on effect today, including air traffic restrictions,” Gatwick told one angry passenger.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We are working alongside our airline partners to keep passengers travelling today. We apologise for any inconvenience experienced as we work to keep passengers safe from adverse weather.

“Flights are currently arriving and departing at Heathrow, and we are supporting Nats to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, they added. “We apologise to passengers for any disruption that occurs as a result.

Nats said it had made enough progress on the technical bug by 3pm to lessen the impact of flight delays across London airports.

“Following the technical problem at Swanwick air traffic control centre this morning, we have now fixed the issue sufficiently to safely increase traffic flow rates and will see an improving picture through the rest of the day,” a Nats spokesperson said.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

Read more: Eurostar cancels London to Paris trains as heatwave hits power lines

The delays came as Eurostar passengers were also stranded after this week’s heatwave.

The London to Paris service warned customers not to travel as it cancelled services due to problems with overhead power lines in Paris.