UK airport chaos latest: Initial investigation reveals reason for air … – Sky News

Airports have warned disruption will continue despite the air traffic control glitch being fixed on Monday. Britons have told of sleeping on floors in European airports, with “fists flying” in Palma. But, positive movements have been made with the government approving some night flights.
Wednesday 30 August 2023 06:02, UK
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The air travel chaos is continuing to make headlines tomorrow as hundreds of people keep feeling the impact of the air traffic control glitch. 
Here’s a look at some of Wednesday’s newspaper front pages.
The Sun reports holidaymakers caught in the delays could be stuck for up to two weeks. 
Metro says the failure has caused disruption to around 300,000 people and could cost Britain up to £80m. 

The i leads with some UK airlines being accused of abandoning passengers.
Daily Mail claims thousands of stranded families are being denied compensation.

An update from London Heathrow now, and its official runways account on X has said there will be “several late running flights tonight”. 
The account provides updates on the airport’s runway services, often letting followers know about changes made to operations, temporary disruption and adverse weather conditions. 
“Due to continued recovery from yesterday’s ATC [air traffic control] outage, there are predicted to be several late running flights tonight,” it said. 
“We would like to apologise for any disruption this may cause.” 
Earlier today, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the government had “put in place temporary alleviations to allow night flights” at some airports to go ahead. 
Passengers at Heathrow Airport are still waiting as chaos from air traffic control issues continues. 
Airlines and airports have warned travel disruption could last for days, with flights being delayed and cancelled.
Thousands of passengers have been stranded over the last 48 hours. 

The chief executive of the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) has told Sky News he could not rule out that a single misfiled flight plan was the cause of disrupted travel over the last two days.
The system suffered a “failure in processing some of the flight data we receive”, said Martin Rolfe.
The organisation resorted to manual data handling to “make sure that we can never present erroneous or mistaken safety-critical data to controllers”, he said.
Asked if the disruption was caused by an incorrectly filed flight plan by a French airline, he said: “We are not in a position yet to go into that.”
Pressed on the issue, Mr Rolfe said the systems were complex and he was “not going to rush into saying what the cause is” – but that he is “not ruling out anything at this stage”.
The problem was spotted at 8.30am on Monday and normal flight operations continued for up to four hours before restrictions were put in place, he explained.
The air traffic control system is designed to stop processing data automatically if a file is flagged as problematic.
“The problem was rectified” at around 2.30pm before restrictions were slowly removed over the course of hours, Mr Rolfe said.
“We have no reason to believe that this will be repeated, we have processes in place to make sure that we can recover from any future failures, or in fact prevent any future failures occurring.”
An investigation is ongoing but “we are fairly certain nothing points to a cyberattack in this particular instance,” he added.
With the air travel disruption continuing, passengers are continuing to feel the impact of yesterday’s air traffic system’s glitch. 
Data has revealed 20% of UK departures and 27% of arrivals were cancelled yesterday. 
Heathrow Airport axed the most flights in total. 
In the video below, Sky News takes a look at how many have been scrapped. 
The air traffic control failure was caused by flight data received by National Air Traffic Services (NATS), an initial investigation has found.
The company’s primary and back-up systems responded to the data by “suspending automatic processing to ensure that no incorrect safety-related information could be presented to an air traffic controller or impact the rest of the air traffic system,” its chief executive said in a statement. 
Martin Rolfe explained such “complex” technical issues occur “very occasionally” and can take longer to resolve, but NATS’ systems are designed to “isolate the problem” and prioritise safety. 
“We have well established procedures, overseen by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) to investigate incidents,” Mr Rolfe added.  
“We are already working closely with them to provide a preliminary report to the secretary of state for transport on Monday.” 
NATS has said the report will be made public, and reassured people the issue was not the result of a cyberattack. 
Here is his statement in full: 
EasyJet will run five repatriation flights to Gatwick following the air traffic control fault yesterday, the airline has announced. 
It will also operate larger aircraft on key routes. 
It said its operations are now running normally, and customers are still being provided with assistance. 
Here are the five flights being run by the airline: 
“We are also operating larger aircraft on key routes including Faro, Ibiza, Dalaman and Tenerife to provide some additional 700 seats this week,” it said. 

“Although this situation was outside of our control, we are sorry for the difficulty this has caused for our customers and remain focused on doing all possible to assist and repatriate them.” 
EasyJet customers will be moved onto repatriation flights and notified directly.
Thousands of people have faced disruption over the last two days after an air traffic control failure caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled and delayed. 
Airlines have legal obligations to their customers in such situations – but one travel expert has said sometimes it works to their benefit to keep the rules unclear. 
“It seems to be a really common trait at the moment, airline communication is never very good,” Cathy Adams, senior travel editor for The Times told Sky News. 

“They do have, in their defence, have hundreds of thousands of passengers dealing with cancelled flights. 
“Airlines are never proactive – sometimes it works in their favour never to make the rules too clear.” 
What are passengers entitled to?
In the event of a significant delay, airlines must give passengers:
“Reasonable” is a key word here, and you might not receive full compensation if you book a five-star hotel or have alcohol with your meals.

Whatever the reason for the delay, you are entitled to a full refund if you decide to abandon your journey after five hours of delays.
But passengers on package holidays should check with their provider, as they could be left out of pocket for their hotel.
A “frustrated and tired” Scottish drama student was left stranded in Amsterdam Airport overnight after his flight to Edinburgh was cancelled. 

Matthew Creed was initially flying from Hong Kong to Edinburgh with a stopover in Doha on Qatar Airways – he planned to see his family in Scotland before beginning his master’s degree in drama in London.
When he arrived in Hong Kong, Qatar Airways informed him his ticket was on standby.
Upon arrival in Doha, he was notified that he did not have a seat on the flight to Edinburgh. 
Qatar then transferred him on a KLM flight to Amsterdam – he arrived at 3am on Monday only to discover the Dutch airliner had cancelled his next flight to Edinburgh.
KLM booked him a new flight to Edinburgh departing at 9.50pm today. 
The 26-year-old said: “They were helping people for a long amount of time, there were long queues, and there were only four or five agents trying to help people.
“Then they just kind of said we’re closing all of their desks and everybody needs to find their own accommodation or find out their own way to sort things out.
“We heard that there was a gate at the end of the airport where they were putting out pillows and blankets and things, so that’s where we had to sleep last night… which wasn’t ideal.”
Mr Creed paid for access to KLM’s Crown Lounges at Amsterdam Airport in order to have a shower and eat some food, with the hope of being reimbursed for the cost.
But he was informed by KLM the next morning that it had booked a hotel for him – he said he just didn’t receive an email.
In its latest statement, Easyjet Holidays has urged customers not to call its support team. 
The holiday provider said it is “working hard to support our customers” but its helpline is experiencing long wait times.
“We’d encourage customers not to call our On Holiday Support Team at this time, as we are experiencing long wait times, and they won’t be able to provide any additional information,” it said. 
On its website, it provided all the latest information customers need to know. 
Here’s what it said: 
Alternative flights home
It said it is working to get its customers o the most suitable alternative flight home, but in some situations this is taking longer than hoped.
“If customers haven’t received confirmation of their flight home, or if their new flight home is not suitable, they’re able to book their own transport home and claim for reasonable expenses,” it said. 
Overnight accommodation in destination
It warned it some situations it has not been possible to source overnight accommodation for some customers – but said they will be able to claim for “reasonable expenses” if they book somewhere to stay. 
Claiming for reasonable expenses

To claim back disruption related expenses, including comparable alternative transport home, overnight hotel accommodation, and restaurant meals excluding alcohol, customers have been told to complete an expense claim form. 
Passengers need to attach receipts for the items they’re looking to claim back, and these receipts will need to include the correct dates and currency.
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