Air traffic control disruption: 211 Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen flights cancelled

Passengers at Edinburgh Airport on Tuesday. (Photo by Lisa Ferguson)
Passengers at Edinburgh Airport on Tuesday. (Photo by Lisa Ferguson)

More than 200 flights have been cancelled at Scotland’s three main airports since a fault disrupted the UK’s air traffic control system on Monday, but Edinburgh Airport – the busiest – said its schedules were “returning to normal”.

The technical problem grounded nearly one in three arrivals and departure at the capital’s airport on Monday – 103 of 321 – but the number had reduced to 20 on Tuesday.

Officials opened security through the night to give airlines more opportunity to operate flights.

At Glasgow Airport, 50 of its 200 scheduled flights were halted on Monday – one in four – and 20 on Tuesday.

A further 19 flights were halted at Aberdeen Airport on Monday, with some delays on Tuesday.

They were among nearly 1,600 flights cancelled across the UK on Monday, or 27 per cent for the total, according to separate figures from aviation analysts Cirium.

A further 281 flights were cancelled on Tuesday at the UK’s six busiest airports, according to analysis by the Press Association news agency

An Edinburgh Airport spokesperson said: “Schedules are now returning to normal. However, passengers should continue to check with their airline for flight information.

“As an airport we will continue to support our partners and will assist with repatriation flights where required."

UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper said it was the worst incident of its kind in "nearly a decade" and announced an independent review would be carried out.

The issue started on Monday after a technical glitch meant flight plans had to be input manually by controllers, causing more than a quarter of departures and arrivals to be axed.

The disruption continued into Tuesday with flights cancelled and delayed as many aircraft and crews are out of position.

Heathrow Airport – the UK’s busiest said: "Schedules continue to be affected. While the majority of passengers will still be able to travel, there will unfortunately be some disruption on some routes, including flight cancellations.

National Air Traffic Services (Nats), the UK’s main air traffic control provider announced on Monday afternoon that it had "identified and remedied" the technical issue affecting its systems.

Nats operations director Juliet Kennedy said the issue meant the automatic system that provides controllers with details of every aircraft and its route stopped working. She said: "To manage safety, we had to limit the number of flights we could manage."

A British Airways spokesperson said: "Like other airlines operating in the UK, we are continuing to experience the knock-on effects of yesterday's Nats’ air traffic control issue, which includes unavoidable delays and cancellations.

"Customers travelling today or tomorrow on short-haul services can move their flight to a later date free of charge if they wish, subject to availability.”

Passengers affected included a "frustrated and tired" Scottish drama student returning home from Hong Kong was left stranded in Amsterdam Airport on Monday night, leaving him to in the terminal. Matthew Creed, 26, Harthill in North Lanarkshire, was stuck after his flight with KLM to Edinburgh was cancelled.