London airspace in chaos after air traffic computer glitch

Passengers flying to and from London were faced with severe flight disruptions after a computer failure at the UK’s air traffic control centre.

Although the airspace has not been closed, flights were halted at some of the UK’s major airports causing severe delays for passengers.

According to the BBC, Martin Rolfe, managing director of the National Air Traffic Services (NATS), has “absolutely ruled out” that the airspace disruption was caused by a cyber-attack.  

Following the technical failure at Swanwick in Hampshire, NATS said on their website that the system has been restored, but “it will take time for operations across the UK to fully recover so passengers should contact their airline for the status of their flight”.

Heathrow airport – with over 67 million passengers transiting it annually – took to Twitter: “Check your flight status before coming to the airport. Flights experiencing severe disruption due to technical issue at air traffic control.”

Later that evening, the BBC’s science editor David Shukman tweeted: “Trickle of planes now leaving Heathrow.”

Airports in other parts of the country such as Birmingham and Manchester, in central and northern England, were unaffected by the technical problem and anticipated diverted flights. Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton were severely affected. 

A similar scenario occurred in December last year when thousands of passengers were left stranded as UK airports were hit by flight delays after a technical fault at the Hampshire centre.

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