Reports are emerging Monday of passengers being stuck at airports across Europe as Britain’s National Air Traffic Service (NATS) encountered what it described as a "technical issue."
NATS, which calls itself the "UK's leading provider of air traffic control services," first said in a statement that it is "currently experiencing a technical issue and [has] applied traffic flow restrictions to maintain safety.
It later said it has "identified and remedied the technical issue affecting our flight planning system this morning" and that it is "now working closely with airlines and airports to manage the flights affected as efficiently as possible.
"Our engineers will be carefully monitoring the system’s performance as we return to normal operations," NATS added.
Passengers at airports in Spain, Croatia, Turkey, Denmark and other countries are reporting delays or cancelations of their flights, according to Sky News.
"The flight planning issue affected the system’s ability to automatically process flight plans, meaning that flight plans had to be processed manually which cannot be done at the same volume, hence the requirement for traffic flow restrictions," added NATS, which also says it handles more than 2.5 million flights and 250 million passengers traveling in U.K. airspace in a normal, pre-COVID year. "Our priority is always to ensure that every flight in the UK remains safe and we are sincerely sorry for the disruption this is causing."
"National Air Traffic Services (NATS) are currently experiencing an outage and have applied air traffic restrictions across the UK," London's Heathrow Airport wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, this morning. "We recommend that you contact your airline for the most up to date travel advice before heading to Heathrow."
"We are seeing delays, and cancellations are likely," added London's Gatwick Airport.
Scottish airline Loganair said in its own statement that "[d]ue to a network-wide outage of Air Traffic Control systems, delays and disruption are expected throughout the day for all airlines."
One passenger who Reuters reported was on a plane being held on the tarmac in Budapest, Hungary, said their pilot informed travelers they should expect a delay of 8 to 12 hours.
Another traveler on a plane waiting to take off from the Greek island of Crete told Sky News that the pilot on board offered trips to the cockpit for children to help pass the time.