Scottish airports: Flight delay glitch ‘resolved’

Terminal 5 at Heathrow. A "technical problem" caused delays across the UK. Picture: PA
Terminal 5 at Heathrow. A "technical problem" caused delays across the UK. Picture: PA
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FLIGHTS at Scottish airports returned to normal today after more than 700 across the UK were cancelled or severely delayed yesterday because of an air traffic control fault.

Glasgow airport said there had been one knock-on cancellation - the first British Airways flight to Heathrow.

Edinburgh airport, whose passengers had been delayed by up to nearly four hours, reported it was operating normally, along with the main London airports.

Some 50 Scottish flights were among those affected by an internal communications problem at National Air Traffic Services (Nats), which runs air traffic control in the UK.

A Nats spokesman said the problem, which hit the communications system in its control operations room near Southampton, had been “resolved” last night.

He said it had affected just under one in five of the 3,600 flights yesterday.

The problem comes five months after an unrelated computer fault at the Swanwick centre disrupted flights across southern England in July.

The spokesman said: “The reduction in capacity has had a disproportionate effect on southern England because it is extremely complex and busy airspace, and we sincerely regret inconvenience to our airline customers and their passengers.

“To be clear, this is a very complex and sophisticated system with more than a million lines of software.

“This is not simply internal telephones, it is the system controllers use to speak to other air traffic control agencies both in the UK and Europe, and is the biggest system of its kind in Europe.”

The problem occurred when the 23 controllers on a night shift at the centre handed over to the 125 controllers on the day shift at about 6am yesterday.

Nats’ night-time operating system, which combines sectors of airspace for when it is less busy, did not properly switch over to the daytime system, causing a communication problem with the centre’s internal telephones.