easyJet boss calls for independent review into UK air traffic control failure

posted on 31st August 2023 by William Hallowell
easyJet boss calls for independent review into UK air traffic control failure

easyJet’s boss has demanded that a “full independent review” takes place after the air traffic control (ATC) failure over the bank holiday weekend plunged airports into chaos.

Johan Lundgren said the failure “must not happen again”. NATS (National Air Traffic Services) believes it is the fault of “unreliable” flight data that its system “didn’t understand” and “couldn’t interpret”.

Flights to and from UK airports were restricted for several hours on Monday afternoon as NATS was unable to process flight plans automatically. More than a quarter of flights were cancelled on Monday, and the knock-on effect continued for two more days.

It is anticipated that disruption is set continue to affect passengers over the coming days.

easyJet’s chief executive said: “We have been absolutely focused this week on helping our customers impacted by the ATC failure return home. An incident of this scale should not have happened and must not happen again in the future.

“Passengers deserve to see a full independent review, which not only results in meaningful improvements to prevent an incident of this scale happening again but also considers a wide range of issues beyond this incident, including staffing levels required at NATS to deliver today’s flying and what modernisation is needed to deliver the flying of tomorrow.”

NATS is conducting its own inquiry into what happened and will send a preliminary report to Mark Harper, the UK’s transport secretary, at the beginning of next week.

easyJet said it is trying to fly people back as quickly as possible as thousands remain stranded. In a statement, the airline said: “As more seats become available we are contacting customers who we know are yet to return home to try and get them on earlier flights.

“Seats on these flights will be offered on a first come, first served basis so we encourage those who wish to travel earlier to call us as soon as possible on +44 (0)330 5515147.”

Major airlines have been criticised, standing accused of responding too slowly to the fact that almost a quarter of a million people remain stranded due to serious delays and cancelled flights.

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