Computer glitch causes flight chaos at London airports

British Airways is advising passengers on European and domestic services to check the status of flights before departing for the airport following cancellations yesterday due to an air traffic control problem.

BA had to cancel dozens of flights at Heathrow and more than 100 were cancelled across the southeast due to a computer glitch at the main air traffic control centre at Swanwick in Hampshire.

The problem occurred at 4pm and led to a 40-minute suspension of all departures at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. Air traffic control body Nats said the problem was rectified by 7pm, but delays and cancellations are likely to continue today.

EasyJet cancelled more than 50 flights at Gatwick, Stansted and Luton yesterday, but hoped to operate as normal today. No details of cancellations or the status of today’s flights were available from Ryanair.

It is the first major problem at Nats since June 2004. However, the Swanwick centre was dogged by computer problems when it first opened in 2002.

Nats has been part-owned by a consortium of airlines, including BA, since its part-privatisation in 2001.

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