Cargo escapes worst of UK air traffic blip
05 / 09 / 2023
Source: Heathrow Airports Limited
IAG Cargo said it hasn’t experienced any disruption as a result of the recent National Air Traffic Services (Nats) air traffic control failure in the UK.
An IAG Cargo spokesperson told Air Cargo News that mainly narrowbody aircraft had been affected with minimal cargo volumes.
“IAG Cargo is operating as normal, with no expected interruptions as a result of the NATS air traffic control system outage in the UK last week,” said the cargo handling division of International Airlines Group on September 4.
On August 28, the UK’s Nats said it experienced a technical issue that resulted in its flight planning system being unable to automatically process flight plans.
This meant that “flight plans had to be processed manually which cannot be done at the same volume, hence the requirement for traffic flow restrictions”.
The issue was rectified on the same day, however, airlines faced cancelled and delayed flights as a result of the technical issue.
IAG-owned British Airways said in an update on August 30: “Like all airlines using UK airspace, our flights have been severely disrupted as a result of a major issue experienced by NATS Air Traffic Control on August 28. While NATS has now resolved the issue, it has created significant and unavoidable delays and cancellations.”
Nats chief executive Martin Rolfe said on August 29: “At no point was UK airspace closed but the number of flights was significantly reduced.”
In an update on its homepage on August 29, Heathrow Airport said: “The technical issue which limited UK air traffic on August 28 has been fixed by NATS.
“However, schedules remain significantly disrupted. We ask passengers to only travel to the airport if their flight is confirmed as still operating.
“We are working as hard as we can to minimise the knock-on impacts and assist those who have been affected.”
IATA did not comment on the impact on cargo, however, Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General said in a statement on August 28: “NATS has crucial questions to answer about their responsibility for this fiasco.
“The failure of this essential service is unacceptable and brings into question the oversight of the CAA who are required to review the NATS resilience plan under the terms of its licence.”
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is awaiting an incident report from Nats.
CAA interim-joint chief executive, Rob Bishton, said in a statement: “As part of our regulatory oversight of its activities, we continue to engage with Nats and once its investigation is fully complete, an incident report will be provided to the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
“The report’s outcomes will then be shared with the Secretary of State for Transport.”