British air traffic control has restricted all flights after an early morning technical issue, cause still unknown. The nationwide grounding is causing massive flight delays and cancellations for thousands of passengers in the UK and a ripple effect at other EU airports and abroad.
After hours of delays and canceled flights into and out of the UK, the nation's air traffic control center said it has "identified and remedied the technical issue affecting our flight planning system" and "are 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 said in a statement posted on its website Monday afternoon.
"Our automatic system, which provides controllers with details of every aircraft and its route wasn't working," NATS Operations Director Juliet Kennedy explained in a video posted on X.
So far, there is no word on what caused the technical issue, but rumors of a possible hack have begun to spread on social media.
Apologizing for "the situation" and its impact on the traveling public, Kennedy said, "We will be investigating thoroughly what happened."
Cybernews has reached out to NATS and is awaiting a response.
The UK air traffic control company announced the heavy flight restrictions on its website just after midnight Monday morning. The timing couldn't be worse, as August 28th happens to be a bank holiday in the UK and the end of one of the busier travel weekends of the summer.
Working to resolve the issue, NATS clarified earlier that it had not closed UK airspace, but applied air traffic flow restrictions over safety concerns.
About two hours later, NATS put out another statement elaborating that the network failure was "affecting our ability to automatically process flight plans.”
“Until our engineers have resolved this, flight plans are being input manually which means we cannot process them at the same volume, hence we have applied traffic flow restrictions,” it said.
“Our technical experts are looking at all possible solutions to rectify this as quickly as possible. Our priority is ensuring every flight in the UK remains safe and doing everything we can to minimize the impact, “ NATS said.
Meantime, there have been some reports of flights being delayed over 12 hours as airlines have been warning passengers to expect delays and cancellations throughout the day.
According to the airport disruption map found on the flight tracker website FlightRadar24, by 4 pm BST, hundreds of departure flights are being reported, not just in London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports. but also at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, and both Munich and Frankfurt airports, and more.
Typically, NATS handles 2.5 million flights per year within UK airspace, serving roughly 250 million passengers, according to the agency.
The aviation company apologized for the disruption and urged travelers to to contact their airlines for more information.
NATS said it will continue to provide updates on the NATS website and X profile page.
Cybernews will update the story as new information come in.
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