London’s airspace is completely closed and all its airports have suspended flights.
The news broke on Twitter on Friday afternoon as passengers at the UK’s biggest airport, Heathrow, tweeted about suspended travel.
Heathrow Airport said initially that UK flights are experiencing delays due to a power outage at NATS air traffic control centre in Swanwick. However, it’s now been confirmed that all air traffic is closed until at least 7pm UK time due to a major computer failure. It means there is major disruption to Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, and beyond.
“NATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC COMPUTER SYSTEM HAS SUFFERED A FAILURE.UNTIL THE SYSTEM RECOVERS, NO TRAFFIC UNTIL 1900 UTC INITIALLY.”
— Lucy Tobin (@lucytobin) December 12, 2014
This is what London’s airspace looked like as the last flights landed:
NATS has released information on the power failure. It explains on its website:
“NATS can confirm that a technical problem has been reported at Swanwick air traffic control centre.
We apologise for any delays and our incident response team has been mobilised.
Every possible action is being taken to assist in resolving the situation and to confirm the details.
Further information will be released as it becomes available.”
However, NATS also tweeted that airspace is not closed, but restricted. There is widespread confusion. The Network Operations Portal says it’s shut down due to a technical failure. Engineers are working on the problem. Only airborne traffic will be accepted into airports in the capital.
Heathrow is the third busiest airport in the world. It handles 134,000 passengers per day. Gatwick is the 37th busiest, handling 96,000 passengers per day.
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