Cardiff is among UK airports reporting delays on departing flights due to air traffic control problemsPosted: December 7, 2013
National Air Traffic Services said the issue stemmed from it control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire – and the problem is unlikely to be fixed until 2pm at the earliest.
A “technical problem” at the air traffic control centre is causing delays at airports across the UK.
A spokesman for Cardiff Airport said all flights this morning had been affected.
Incoming flights from Glasgow and Malaga have now landed while those from Dublin and Amsterdam are expected later today.
Those leaving Cardiff Airport are also experiencing delays, though there are reports that some flights are now boarding.
A spokesman for Cardiff Airport said: “Both (departures and arrivals) have been delayed because of the knock-on effect of the late arrivals of the service.
“We are currently looking at an estimated 1hour 40 minutes delay.”
A spokeswoman for Bristol Airport described the situation as “improving all the time”.
“It is very minimal disruption for us here at Bristol, with some flights being impacted approximately 20 minutes,” she said.
“It is improving all the time.”
Flights have been delayed and cancelled at airports across the UK and Ireland because of a technical problem at an air traffic control centre.
The problem is unlikely to be fixed until 2pm at the earliest.
The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) said: “Nats air traffic control has advised that, due to air traffic control telephone equipment failure at Swanwick, they are currently experiencing some difficulty switching from night-time to daytime operations.
“Technicians are working to try to resolve the issue but have advised that this is unlikely to be before 2pm today.
“Delays and flight cancellations at some UK airports are being experienced as a result.
“Customers due to travel today should liaise with their airline to establish if there are any changes to their flight arrangements.
“Furthermore, customers should be prepared for potential delays and are advised to carry essential items such as medication in their hand luggage.”
Thousands of people have been affected at major airports including Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick.
Nats said the issue arose at its control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire, in the early hours of the morning when a computing glitch meant the night-time operation failed to properly switch over to the daytime system.
Heathrow had cancelled 60 flights by 9.45am, with that figure split roughly equally between departures and arrivals.
A Heathrow Airport spokeswoman said: “Due to a technical issue with air traffic control, flights from many UK airports, including Heathrow, are subject to delay and cancellation.
“If you are flying today you should check the status of your flight with your airline. We are sorry that passengers have experienced disruption to their journeys.”
A Nats spokesman said: “Due to a technical problem at Swanwick we are currently experiencing some difficulty switching from night-time to daytime operation. At night, when it’s quiet, we can combine sectors of airspace. When it gets busy in the daytime, we split the sectors out again. The voice communications system is configured to enable this to happen.
“We experienced a technical problem in the early hours of this morning, which means that it hasn’t been possible to reconfigure the voice communications system to split out the sectors for the busier daytime traffic in some areas of the UK enroute airspace.
“Engineers are working to rectify the problem as soon as possible, but this is resulting in some delays. Safety has not been compromised at any time, and we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience being caused to passengers.”
A Stansted spokesman said all of the Essex airport’s departing flights were subject to delays of between 30 minutes and two hours, while Gatwick said 20% of its departures had been delayed, with passengers warned they could wait for “a couple of hours”.
The Stansted spokesman said: “There are restrictions on the airspace and the flow of aircraft. Our first departures go at 6am, so that’s when the problems started.”
A spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport said: “There are some issues with the air traffic control system.
“The result of it is that, at the moment, 20% of our flights are being delayed, by anything up to a couple of hours, but we’re getting people moving and getting them away.”
London City Airport said about 50% of its flights had been disrupted, while Luton said inbound flights were unaffected but outbound flights had been hit.
Scotland’s two biggest airports reported delays. A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said the Nats technical fault had led to delays on southbound flights and he asked passengers to contact their airline if they are due to travel today.
Glasgow Airport tweeted: “A technical issue with air traffic control is resulting in some flight delays. Pls check with your airline for specific flight info.”
Bournemouth Airport in Dorset and Newcastle Airport were also affected.
Independent aviation analyst Chris Yates said: “It’s going to be a day of frustrations and the knock-on effects are going to last for the whole day because of the backlog of planes. It will be a tough day for everybody.”
Mr Yates said Swanwick controls all aircraft over the South of England, meaning thousands of passengers would be affected.
“There are contingency plans in place whenever this happens,” he said. “Many of the long-haul flights, coming from China, India, the US and so on, passengers sitting on those planes may find themselves diverted to continental airports.
“But it’s going to be a long wait for them. When the system kicks back in and starts working, there will be a backlog of flights.
“For those waiting to fly out, it’s going to be a case of sitting around the airport terminal until things get back to normal.”
Passanger Daisy McAndrew said she had been caught in the “unholy mess” at Gatwick as she tried to fly to Barcelona for work.
“As ever, staff have been fantastic but they know nothing other than the fact it is going to be a very, very long delay – very frustrating,” Ms McAndrew told Sky News.
“And also, it’s embarrassing, isn’t it? When you look around a lot of people on my plane are not British, they are flying British Airways, they are probably trying to get back to Spain and they will inevitably be thinking this is something that could have possibly been prevented.
“It doesn’t show our air traffic control system or our travel system in a good light.”
Passengers are advised to check with their airline for the latest situation.
Virgin Atlantic wrote on Twitter: “Due to issues with UK air traffic control this morning, we are experiencing some delays.”
On its website, Ryanair apologised for any inconvenience, writing: “Ryanair has been advised of an equipment failure within UK air traffic control which will cause significant flight delays and possible cancellations.”
EasyJet advised passengers to check in for flights as normal “as the situation can improve”, but suggested they refer to the airline’s flight tracker page for updates.
A message on its website read: “Although this is beyond easyJet’s control, we apologise for any inconvenience that you may experience today.”
The £623 million state-of-the-art air traffic control centre at Swanwick in Hampshire has had its share of computer glitches since air traffic control company Nats moved in.
Previously based at West Drayton in west London, Nats took over the fantastic facility in January 2002.
But in the first few months of its opening, Swanwick experienced a number of computer failures.
These prompted MPs to question Nats staffing levels, although Nats’ bosses maintained that the system was safe.
After the early teething problems, Swanwick settled down and has been largely glitch-free in recent years.
There were problems in September 2008 when a computer fault led to flight delays.
And earlier this year – in July – flights in southern England were delayed due to another problem at Swanwick.
Hampshire had been identified as a possible new centre as early as 1990 and the building at Swanwick was handed over to Nats in November 1994.
But in a preview of what was to happen when the centre finally opened, there were pre-opening problems with software.
With Nats’ staff going through 170 hours each on the new systems, the centre was finally able to start functioning at the beginning of 2002.
The training programme has taken two man-years to prepare and involved more than 21,000 individual assignments in what was one of the longest training programme in the history of air traffic control.
Nats said that, while it could not specify when the issue would be fixed, it was “working as hard as possible to solve the problem”.
The spokesman said the problem was linked to voice communications, which includes, but is not confined to, the telephone system.
Sourced from walesonline
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A spokesman said: “Ryanair is listening to our customers and responding, so that they can continue to enjoy the lowest fares and most on-time flights, but can also benefit from these recent improvements to Ryanair’s industry leading customer service.
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Sourced from Travel Weekly
“Aer Lingus simply cannot accede to SIPTU’s demands because this would require Aer Lingus to breach its legal obligations,” the airline said.
The union has reportedly said there will be no industrial disruption to flights before Christmas.
Aer Lingus called on all parties “to engage constructively” in the long-running dispute but warned that it may be forced to take legal action against the union over any losses likely to be incurred by a walkout.
The carrier said SIPTU’s demands come only days after Aer Lingus “unilaterally agreed in good faith” to pay a 2013 incremental pay increase to assist in advancing the proposed pension solution.
The row centres on the Irish Aviation Superannuation Scheme (IASS), of which staff at Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority are members, and which has a €780 million shortfall. It has brought workers at the two organisations close to strike over the last year.
Sourced from Travel Weekly
The latest report from liquidator PricewaterhouseCoopers says the final claim from the ATT “is likely to be significantly amended”.
The report says: “The work of the liquidators has resulted in the liquidators issuing legal proceedings against a number of parties which are anticipated to produce further realisations for the benefit of creditors.”
But PwC also says it is not possible to estimate a dividend for unsecured creditors who are owed £35 million “due to the uncertainty in relation to the final level of recoveries from the ongoing legal action”.
As Travel Weekly reported in June, PwC served legal papers to former XL Leisure boss Phil Wyatt. According to reports, he was accused of providing “dishonest assistance” to Abdulkadir Aydin, sole director of Surrey-based Goldtrail.
There are also claims in the High Court against five other defendants, including Aydin himself, who was disqualified in May from running a UK business for 15 years for “gross mismanagement of the company’s affairs”.
The report shows that PwC has been paid almost £1.6 million in addition to legal fees.
Goldtrail failed in summer 2010 with debts of £2.3 million.
Sourced from Travel Weekly
Around £4.2 million of her overall pay was in shares under a long-term incentive plan. McCall was also paid a £1.15 million bonus, the Guardian reported.
EasyJet’s chief financial officer Chris Kennedy more than doubled his rewards to £3.74 million, including £2.74 million in long-term incentive payments.
McCall’s total remuneration was reported by the budget airline under new rules introduced by business secretary Vince Cable in September that require publication of chief executive earnings in simple terms.
An easyJet spokesman said her rewards reflected a surging share price and performance over the last three years.
He said average salary across the airline was £62,000 and that pay was designed with “a clear link between the value created for shareholders and the amount paid to EasyJet’s directors”.
The spokesman told the newspaper: “Shareholders have shared in this success through a 120% rise in the share price during the financial year. Dividends of £85 million were paid during the year and easyJet has recently recommended to shareholders the payment of dividends totalling £308 million to be paid in March 2014.
“EasyJet’s pay strategy is constantly reviewed to ensure it is in line with companies of similar size and turnover in the FTSE 100 and is based on investors’ best practice guidance and reflects consultation with our major shareholders. EasyJet is committed to maintaining an open and transparent dialogue with shareholders.”
Sourced from Travel Weekly
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