uk air traffic control chaos to last for days
UK air traffic control chaos to last for ‘days’

The aftermath of a technical glitch in the UK's air traffic control system is set to cause days of chaos for travelers. Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary for the UK, acknowledged during an interview that the "technical issue" had impacted thousands of passengers and would continue to cause disruptions for "some days." The failure of Britain's National Air Traffic Services (NATS) flight planning system led to significant delays and flight cancellations for passengers traveling to or from the UK. Although NATS has resolved the glitch, the disruption caused by the failure is ongoing, with hundreds of departures and arrivals at British airports being canceled. Various airlines and airports have issued statements notifying passengers of potential delays and cancellations.


On August 28, 2023, the UK's air traffic control system experienced a technical glitch that resulted in significant disruptions and flight cancellations for thousands of passengers. This failure, which occurred on the last day of a summer public holiday weekend, caused considerable chaos within the aviation industry. Passengers faced delays and cancellations, and the fallout from this issue was expected to last for several days.

Transport Secretary acknowledges the issue

Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary for the UK, acknowledged the severity of the situation during an interview. He confirmed that the technical issue had impacted numerous flights and passengers, and it would take considerable time to resolve the resulting backlog. Harper's acknowledgment of the problem highlighted the scale of the disruption and the challenges faced by those affected.

Impact on passengers

The technical failure of the UK's air traffic control system had a significant impact on passengers. Many faced delays and cancellations, resulting in frustration and the need for alternative travel arrangements. Some passengers who were scheduled to travel on Monday found themselves stranded at airports and forced to find accommodation for an additional night. The disruption caused by the glitch affected both domestic and international travelers, causing inconvenience and potentially financial implications for those affected.

Passenger testimonies

Passenger testimonies provided firsthand accounts of the challenges and frustrations faced as a result of the air traffic control failure. Rosa Palladino, a traveler headed to Naples, Italy, shared her experience of being informed of the cancellation of her easyJet flight while already en route to Gatwick Airport. Palladino was fortunate enough to secure another flight for the following day but described the stress and uncertainty experienced by herself and fellow passengers. Lee Vanstone, another affected traveler, shared a photo on social media of passengers waiting at Pisa Airport, highlighting the lack of available flights and the uncertain timeline for their departure.

Notifications from airports and airlines

Several UK airports and airlines issued statements to notify passengers of potential delays due to the ongoing disruption. For example, London's Heathrow Airport informed passengers that there may be continuing disruption, including flight cancellations, as a result of the technical issues experienced by UK Air Traffic Control. Gatwick Airport also advised passengers to check the status of their flights before traveling to the airport. These notifications aimed to keep passengers informed and allow them to make the necessary adjustments to their travel plans.

Responses from various airlines

Airlines such as easyJet and British Airways provided guidance to passengers regarding the ongoing situation. They advised passengers to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport, acknowledging the potential for further disruptions. These responses showed the airlines' commitment to keeping passengers informed and providing them with as much support as possible during this challenging period.

Statement from NATS

NATS, Britain's National Air Traffic Services, issued a statement acknowledging the technical issue and expressing their efforts to manage the affected flights efficiently. They reassured the public that their priority was passenger safety and expressed apologies for the disruption caused. The statement directed passengers to contact their respective airlines for information regarding the impact on their flights. NATS' prompt response and acknowledgment of the issue demonstrated their dedication to resolving the situation and providing clarity to affected passengers.

Continuing disruption

Despite NATS' efforts to identify and remedy the technical glitch, the disruption caused by the air traffic control failure continued. According to aviation analytics firm Cirium, at least 790 departures and 785 flight arrivals were canceled at British airports as a result of the failure. The continuing disruption meant that passengers faced ongoing delays and uncertainty, further exacerbating the situation and prolonging the recovery process.


The UK's air traffic control system failure had far-reaching consequences for both domestic and international travelers. The disruption caused by the technical glitch resulted in significant delays, flight cancellations, and stranded passengers. The ongoing disruptions highlighted the challenges faced by the aviation industry in recovering from such incidents and underscored the importance of efficient and reliable air traffic control systems. While efforts were made to mitigate the impact on passengers, the magnitude of the disruption underscored the need for continuous improvement and resilience within the industry.


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