Two aircraft forced to circle over Gibraltar due to alleged lack of air traffic controllers

Two aircraft forced to circle over Gibraltar due to lack of air-traffic controllers

Image showing the two flight paths of the aircraft above Gibraltar. Credit: Twitter@controladores

Alleged lack of air traffic controllers in Gibraltar forces two aircraft to circle overhead while awaiting permission to land

An alleged shortage of air traffic controllers in Gibraltar International airport yesterday, Sunday, April 24, meant that two aircraft were forced to circle overhead while waiting for instructions to land.

The two planes were arriving from the UK, one from London Gatwick, and another from Bristol. Both flights ended up flying in circles above the Rock for around 40 minutes, before finally receiving the go-ahead to make their approach and land.

Both aircraft landed safely, but the information has been made public on the Twitter profile of the Air Controllers (@controladores). They also pointed out that while the control service was activated, the planes remained under the supervision of the control tower in Sevilla at all times.

As reported by the Gibraltar Chronicle, this is not the first occasion such an incident has occurred on the Rock. On 15 September 2019, all flights to and from Gibraltar International Airport were diverted or cancelled, due to air traffic control being closed as a result of staff illness. 

Two incoming flights from Gatwick were diverted to Malaga, while the airport’s service from the Rock to Casablanca via Tangier was cancelled entirely. Fabian Picardo, the Prime Minister of Gibraltar showed his displeasure at the time with NATS.

This is the UK-based company that manages air traffic control in Gibraltar under contract to the Ministry of Defence, as reported by


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at