Air traffic control centre fault could mean delays of two or more hours for passengers jetting away from Norfolk

Ryanair is one of the airlines affected by an air traffic control centre fault which could mean delays of up to two hours at a number of airports including Stansted. Pic: PA. Ryanair is one of the airlines affected by an air traffic control centre fault which could mean delays of up to two hours at a number of airports including Stansted. Pic: PA.

Saturday, December 7, 2013
10:38 AM

People from Norfolk and the rest of the region looking to jet away for some winter sun today could face delays of about two hours or more because of an air traffic control centre fault.

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The National Air Traffic Control Service (Nats) said its Swanwick centre, in Hampshire, was having “difficulty switching from night time to daytime operation”.

It means that flights are being delayed across the UK and Ireland with affected airports including Heathrow, Stansted, Carfdiff, Dublin and Glasgow - although it does not appear there are any delays at Norwich International Airport because of the problem.

Apologising for any delays, Nats added: “Engineers are working to rectify the problem as soon as possible.”

Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton, Luton, London City, Newcastle, Exeter and several other airports have also reported delays and are asking passengers to check with their airlines.

A spokesman for Stansted Airport said all of its flights were delayed for up to two hours. Gatwick said 20pc of its departures had been delayed, with passengers being warned they may have to wait for “a couple of hours”.

The airline Ryanair has warned there will be “significant flight delays and possible cancellations”.

NATS has explained that its Swanwick control centre experienced a technical problem in the early hours of Saturday morning.

It said in a statement: “At night, when it’s quiet, we can combine sectors of airspace. When it gets busy in the daytime we split the sectors out again. The voice communications system is configured to enable this to happen.”

It said the glitch meant it had not been possible to reconfigure the voice communications system to split out the sectors for the daytime traffic in some areas of the UK airspace.

NATS added: “Engineers are working to rectify the problem as soon as possible but this is resulting in some delays. Safety has not been compromised at any time, and we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience being caused to passengers.”

Have you been affected by the problem? Email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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