Gatwick Airport air traffic control staff shortages: Everything we know so far about 'airport chaos'

A shortage of air traffic controllers meant flights at Gatwick Airport were cancelled, delayed or diverted at short notice last night (Thursday, September 14).
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More than 40 flights were cancelled on Thursday due to staff absence in air traffic control. Click here to see what flights are cancelled so far today. According to FlightRadar24, hundreds of flights in and out of the airport were delayed.

A Gatwick Airport spokesperson said: “Temporary air traffic control restrictions are in place due to short notice absence in the Air Traffic Control Tower. Please contact your airline directly for the most up-to-date information.”

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It is understood the situation is now improving with an additional air traffic controller now in place.

London Gatwick airport has had a busy summer. Picture: Steve Robards/Sussex WorldLondon Gatwick airport has had a busy summer. Picture: Steve Robards/Sussex World
London Gatwick airport has had a busy summer. Picture: Steve Robards/Sussex World

A spokesperson told SussexWorld: “The tower is fully staffed and the airport is operating as normal today.”

This comes after London Gatwick Airport responded to people on social media this morning to say that ‘some flights are still affected’.

Gatwick said it was working closely with The National Air Traffic Services (NATS), which also apologised to people for the disruption. The airport is said to be working closely with NATS to ‘build resilience’ in the airport's control tower to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.

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The situation has been described as chaotic on social media.

Passenger Paul Treloar wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “Airport chaos @Gatwick_Airport planes landing all over the place, except for Gatwick Airport itself, due to lack of ATC staff apparently. We're on runway in Bournemouth currently and told we *might* be able to land in two and half hours time.

"It's now four hours later and our flight from Samos has been diverted to Bournemouth. Can you give us any idea if/when we're likely to be able to land at Gatwick this evening?

"We ended up flying to Gatwick about two hours later. Crew were very good and passengers also took things in good grace.”

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This comes just weeks after the UK's air traffic control system was hit by a network failure on Bank Holiday Monday (August 28).

NATS revealed last week that an investigation report identified an issue with a flight plan processing sub-system.

A ‘small but important part’ of NATS’ overall air traffic control technical infrastructure, it was found to have encountered an ‘extremely rare set of circumstances’, presented by a flight plan that included two identically named, but separate waypoint markers outside of UK airspace.

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