UK’s air travel disruption to affect flights for days, confirms minister


LONDON – British Transport Minister Mark Harper confirmed on Tuesday that the air travel disruption prompted by a glitch would take days to resolve.

The United Kingdom’s air traffic control systems were hit by a technical problem on Monday, affecting thousands of passengers and leading to flight delays and cancellations on one of the country’s busiest travel days.

Commenting on the resolution of the issue, Harper said that government officials did not believe the technical problem was the result of a cyberattack.

“There is going to be some knock-on impact today and I suspect for another few days as airlines get their planes and get their services back to normal,” Harper told the BBC.

“I know how frustrating this is for passengers, I’ve had flights cancelled myself before. It is very frustrating, and the airline does have a responsibility to look after their passengers and accommodate them and get them on another flight if necessary,” he added.

Heathrow Airport, Britain’s busiest hub, told passengers on its social media account to contact their airline before traveling to the airport on Tuesday.

On the other hand, airlines said they were amending their schedules to try and fly as many people as possible but some planes and crews were not where they should have been.

“We’re working as hard as possible to get affected customers on their way again,” British Airways said on X, formerly Twitter.

The impact of the glitch can be ascertained from the fact that over 1,500 flights were canceled on Monday when air traffic controllers were forced to switch to manual systems.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak admitted that people were frustrated but said efforts were underway to rectify the issue.

“The transport secretary is in constant dialogue with all the industry participants. He will be talking to airlines specifically later today and making sure that they support passengers to get home as quickly as possible,” Sunak said.

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