London's second-busiest airport Gatwick limits flights after Covid outbreak
Gatwick Airport Covid Outbreak: Stewart Wingate, the airport's chief executive, said the decision “means we can prevent as much disruptions as possible.”
Gatwick Airport, London's second-busiest, is limiting flights amid an outbreak of Covid-19 within air traffic control. In a statement, the airport said a daily 800-flight limit, including both departures and arrivals, has been imposed until Sunday. Around 30% of staff in the division within air traffic control are off sick for several reasons, including Covid-19. The daily cap will prevent last-minute cancellations and delays for passengers while National Air Traffic Services (NATS) gets back to normal, the airport said.
Stewart Wingate, the airport's chief executive, said the decision “means we can prevent as much disruptions as possible.” The largest number of cancellations will be on September 29 when 33 departures affected.
“The reason that we are doing this is to provide as much certainty as we can, not only to the airlines but most importantly to the passengers who will travel this week, that the flights that remain scheduled will actually operate," Stewart Wingate said.
NATS apologized to passengers saying that the decision was taken as due to a variety of medical reasons it can't manage the normal flows in and out of the airport.
Easyjet will be the most affected, with BA and Ryanair among those asked to cancel flights. Johan Lundgren, chief executive officer of EasyJet said that it is "regrettable that a temporary limit on capacity at Gatwick Airport is required". It is “the right action by the airport so on-the-day cancellations and delays can be avoided”, he said, adding that Gatwick Airport needs to work a longer term plan to improve the resilience of the air traffic service.
This comes just weeks after a data glitch at NATS triggered widespread disruption to airlines grounding flights and leaving thousands of passengers stranded. Britain's aviation regulator is set to launch a probe looking into why the country's air traffic control system collapsed.