The UK could face even more flight chaos this summer

Aviation insiders have revealed that air traffic control staff shortages could cause mayhem

Amy Houghton
Written by
Amy Houghton
Contributing writer
Travellers waiting at an airport
Photograph: IR Stone /

If you flew out of the UK last summer, you’ll probably remember that our airports were a right old mess. There was a Covid outbreak at Gatwick, strikes at Heathrow, a bunch of easyJet cancellations and, not to forget, the major air traffic control failure that sent aviation into full meltdown. 

Thought it was all over? Unfortunately not. Experts have predicted that this summer will see similar chaos. 

Aviation insiders have revealed to The I that National Air Traffic Services (NATs) has been struggling to replace retiring air traffic controllers, resulting in a risk of staff shortages as we enter into peak travel months. 

One retired controller told the newspaper that the issue ‘will go on for a couple of years at least’. He said: ‘The situation isn’t going to get dramatically better any time soon, so delays and cancellations won’t either. If demand goes up, it may well get worse.’

A spokesperson for Ryanair commented: ‘NATs air traffic control continues to be an inefficient shambles which threatens passengers’ travel plans… Repeated NATs failures are unacceptable.’

NATs has hit back at the claims, though. A spokesperson told The Sun: ‘NATs doesn’t have a shortage of air traffic controllers – we are well resourced and staffed across our centres and at the airports where we provide the air traffic control service.

‘We have been training new air traffic controllers since re-opening our college after the pandemic two years ago and all the training positions in our college and at our units are full.’

We guess time will only tell. But if you’ve got a summer hol booked, best keep your wits about you. It might also be useful to know the UK’s most delayed flight routes and the airports with the most disruption

Did you see that this seaside resort has been named the UK’s party capital?

Plus: The real-life Hogwarts Express has started running again

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