Air traffic control chaos hits Gatwick for fourth time in a month
Baku, September 26, AZERTAC
Flight cancellations due to Covid-19 have returned after an outbreak of the virus among air traffic control staff was blamed for chaos at London Gatwick Airport, according to Daily Mail.
Some 8,000 passengers were said to have been left out of position after a total of 50 flights arriving or leaving the West Sussex hub were cancelled today and yesterday.
Data from the FlightRadar24 tracking website revealed Gatwick had 26 arrivals and 23 departures cancelled yesterday. There was also one arrival cancelled today.
EasyJet made up dozens of the flights affected after a drop in the 'flow rate' of planes using the Gatwick runway, with some services delayed by up to seven hours.
The airline said it was 'extremely disappointed' by the issues which saw eight flights cancelled to and from Belfast, and others to or from Edinburgh, Geneva and Paris.
National Air Traffic Services (Nats) based in Fareham, Hampshire, said the disruption was due to 'short-notice staff sickness including some incidences of Covid'.
This is the third time in a month that Gatwick passengers have faced chaos due to air traffic control staff sickness, following incidents on September 14 and September 6.
That was on top of the Nats technical glitch on August 28 that caused widespread disruption at airports across the UK, leaving thousands of holidaymakers stranded.
Among those left furious by issues over the weekend was consultant psychiatrist Daniel Wilkes, from Angus, whose flight from Gatwick to Edinburgh last night was cancelled after the scheduled departure time.
He told The Independent: 'I just can't believe the lack of contingency planning from Nats for staff sickness and that this is happening again.
'Plus, airports and airlines have had quite a while to firm up their processes for cancellations, and yet always the poorly managed scrum ensues. Bizarrely, we were made to exit through border control. I didn't even have my passport as it was a domestic flight.'
Dr Wilkes rebooked an easyJet flight this morning from London Stansted to Edinburgh, after travelling there in an Uber for £100 and spending £159 on a hotel at the Essex airport – which he hopes the airline will pay.
Vueling cancelled six flights to and from Barcelona, Bilbao and Paris.