The Department for Transport is to permit night flights at the airports it regulates as it seeks to help clear the backlog linked to Monday’s ATC failure.

Mark Harper, the transport secretary, said the disruption was likely to last for “days”.

On Tuesday afternoon, Harper chaired a meeting on the air traffic control disruption with NATS, the Civil Aviation Authority, airlines, airports, trade bodies and Border Force.

While the technical failure was resolved on Monday afternoon, the meeting was an opportunity for NATS to brief the industry on what went wrong, and for airlines to provide updates on their operations and the support they’re offering to passengers impacted by the disruption.

Supporting passengers

The transport secretary urged airlines to continue doing all they can to support passengers, increasing capacity by whatever means possible and ensuring customers have adequate welfare and accommodation while waiting for their rearranged flights.

Speaking after the meeting, Harper said: “I echo the apology offered by NATS to everyone caught up in the disruption following yesterday’s technical issue with air traffic control. My priority continues to be making sure passengers get where they need to be as quickly as possible.

“I am grateful to airlines, airports and Border Force for the work being done to get passengers to their destinations and to provide support while they wait.

“Airlines are clear about their responsibilities to their customers, and I stand ready to provide further appropriate support from the government should the industry request it.”

He added: “Although the air traffic control system is back up and running, the knock-on effects of yesterday’s disruption are likely to continue over the coming days. Passengers due to travel should check with their airlines before heading to the airport.”

Temporary alleviations to allow night flights

The Department for Transport has put in place temporary alleviations to allow night flights at those airports it regulates. Airline and airport chief executives said there was likely to be a continuation of some disruption in the coming days as they get affected passengers to their destinations, and crew and aircraft to the right locations.

The transport secretary and aviation minister are being kept up to date with airlines and airports’ operations, and will be reviewing the report from NATS once it is delivered to the Civil Aviation Authority in the coming days.
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