By John Ensor •
Published: 15 Sep 2023 • 13:23
Image of Gatwick airport signage.
Travellers passing through Gatwick Airport have experienced severe disruption as a result of staff absences.
On Thursday, September 14, Gatwick Airport, one of the UK’s primary travel hubs, experienced significant disruptions, leaving countless passengers stranded, according to the Express.
Gatwick officials acknowledged that 42 flights were either cancelled or rerouted on that day, with many others facing extensive delays. The root cause? Some passengers were informed of severe staff shortages at the London-based airport, with some reports suggesting a solitary individual was manning the air traffic control.
A spokesperson posted a message on the official Gatwick Airport Facebook page: ‘London Gatwick.
Hi, Due to a short notice staff absence in the Air Traffic Control tower, temporary air traffic control restrictions have been put in place this afternoon. This will cause some delays.
‘London Gatwick would like to apologise to any passengers who have been impacted by these restrictions. Please contact your airline for more information. Thanks, SF’
One frustrated passenger took to social media to vent their frustration: ‘Stuck on the tarmac in Bilbao being told that our @vueling flights can’t take off as there is only one person working in traffic control in @Gatwick_Airport – is this possible?’ Another simply said: ‘Why so many delays Gatwick!???Get to work!!’
One man travelling from mainland Europe to Gatwick, shared his ordeal. His flight was unexpectedly diverted to Brussels. Passengers were initially left in the dark, only realising the change in course from the in-flight map displayed on seat screens.
This incident follows a technical hiccup that affected the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) control system for the entire UK on Bank Holiday Monday, August 28. On that day, over a quarter of flights to and from UK airports were cancelled, in which around 250,000 individuals were impacted.
In response to a tweet voicing frustration over the situation, the airport responded: ‘I understand that this is a stressful time. Unfortunately, this is out of our control the disruption has only been announced, please speak with your airline for more information. Apologies’.
Ryanair chief, Michael O’Leary blamed his counterpart at NATS: ‘It is unacceptable that more flights and hundreds of passengers are suffering delays to/from Gatwick Airport due to NATS CEO, Martin Rolfe’s blatant failure to adequately staff UK ATC.
‘Airlines are paying millions of pounds to NATS each and every year and should not have to see their passengers suffer avoidable delays due to UK ATC staff shortages.’
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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