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UK restricts airspace; thousands of travelers facing flight delays, cancellations across Europe

Travelers arrive at Terminal 2 of London Heathrow Airport in west London, on April 6, 2022. (Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
August 28, 2023

Thousands of flights were delayed in Europe on Monday due to a “technical issue” impacting the United Kingdom’s air traffic control systems, officials said.

According to Britain’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS), the “technical issue” affects how flight plans are processed.

“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,” NATS said in a statement. “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 minimise the impact,” the services added. “Please contact your airline for information on how this may affect your flight. We are sincerely sorry for the disruption this is causing.”

According to Cirium, an aviation analytics firm, over 3,000 flights were scheduled to leave U.K. airports on Monday, Forbes reported.

In June, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) became the target of widespread criticism as thousands of U.S. flights faced cancellations or delays.

Flight Aware documented 1,153 total cancellations at the time, including 315 cancellations and 100 delays in one day. United Airlines suffered the worst out of all flight companies.

Following weekend travel disruptions at Newark Airport in New Jersey, one of the main hubs for United Airlines, Scott Kirby, United Airlines CEO, addressed the situation in a letter to the company’s employees on Monday.

“As you know, the weather we saw in EWR is something that the FAA has historically been able to manage without a severe impact on our operation and customers,” he wrote. “This past Saturday, however, was different.”

Kirby claimed the FAA “frankly failed,” adding that weather near New York City and New Jersey is “something that the FAA has historically been able to manage without a severe impact on our operation and customers.”

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.