As it happened: UK and Ireland Flight delays

Key Points

  • Telephone glitch at National Air Traffic Service delays flights at airports in the UK and Ireland
  • Air traffic officials say problem solved but delays to continue Saturday evening and into Sunday
  • Thousands of people affected at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Cardiff, Glasgow and others
  • Traffic controllers handled 2,800 flights rather than usual 3,500 for a Saturday
  • Officials insist that safety "not compromised at any time" by glitch
  • Ryanair urges aviation regulator to intervene to prevent further disruption

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    Hello and welcome to our live page. A technical issue at Swanwick air traffic control centre is delaying flights at airports in UK and Ireland.


    Stansted, Gatwick, Southampton and Dublin airports are among those airports that have reported delays.


    Heathrow, Cardiff, Luton and London City airports have also said there are delays and they are asking passengers to check with their airlines.


    The National Air Traffic Control Service said its Swanwick centre, in Hampshire, was having "difficulty switching from night time to daytime operation".


    "Engineers are working to rectify the problem as soon as possible," a National Air Traffic Control Service spokesman said.


    For more information and the latest updates read the full story


    In Scotland, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports are also reporting delays.

    James English, Eastbourne, East Sussex

    emails: We were due to fly to Aberdeen at 7am and have been sat on the runway since then. We were initially told we would depart at 10:50am but have just been updated to 9:45am (hopefully).

    I'm due to collect a BMW from Aberdeen and am driving it back down to Eastbourne today so the delays mean I won't get home until the early hours.


    A spokesman for Stansted Airport said all of its flights were delayed for up to two hours. Gatwick said 20% of its departures had been delayed, with passengers being warned they may have to wait for "a couple of hours".

    Passengers at Heathrow

    Passengers at Heathrow are waiting for flight updates. Travel reporter Simon Calder says people are facing "long delays" of up to 40 minutes in departures.

    Stuart Hall, Stanstead

    tweets: Stansted Airport. Flight is delayed. Living the dream.

    Alina, Stanstead

    emails: I have been at Stansted for 2 hours now and there wasn't a single announcement to passengers regarding the delays. Most of the flights are delayed by at least 3 hours and passengers are kept in the dark as to what us causing it, which adds to general frustration.

    Passengers at Heathrow

    The BBC's Jon Hunt also filed this picture from Heathrow airport.


    Exeter Airport is reporting delays of up to three hours on departures and more than an hour on arrivals.


    The National Air Traffic Control Service moved into the £623m state-of-the-art air traffic control centre at Swanwick in January 2002. There were a number of computer failures in the first few months, prompting MPs to question Nats staffing levels. However, it has been largely glitch-free in recent years.


    A statement from Manchester Airport says: "Due to an Air Traffic Control issue the whole country is facing air travel delays at the moment.

    "At Manchester Airport we are currently facing minor delays but traffic is coming in and out. The safety of our passengers is always paramount so we will continue to liaise with Air Traffic Control until the issue is resolved. Passengers should check with their airline and on our website for individual flight information."


    The BBC's Travel News UK airports page has all the latest information on the delays around the country.


    A spokeswoman for Bristol Airport described the situation as "improving all the time".

    "It is very minimal disruption for us here at Bristol, with some flights being impacted approximately 20 minutes," she said.


    If you're just joining us, airports in the UK and the Irish Republic have been reporting disruption since about 0830 this morning. Flight delays are due to a technical issue at Swanwick air traffic control centre. Affected airports include Heathrow, Stansted, Cardiff, Dublin, and Glasgow.

    Veronica Puttock. Heathrow

    emails: The flights at Heathrow are being delayed considerably longer than 40 minutes. After a 9 hour delay at Heathrow on Thursday trying to get from Lyon to Manchester, I'm looking at another 3 hour minimum delay for the return. It'll take a lot of jolly Christmas music to help me see the funny side of this!


    A spokesman for Glasgow Airport said there are currently eight flights delayed - all domestic outbound flights mainly to the South East of England.

    He said these delays could be in the region of anything from 30 minutes to three hours and it was "hard to say" if the number of delays would increase.

    Jenny Phipps, Luton

    emails: I am on board an Easyjet flight on the tarmac at Luton Airport. We were due to depart at 0805 to Geneva but we are being told departure is now 1030......2 1/2 hours in the plane going nowhere!!!! Captain said he decided to get us all onboard in case an earlier take off time became available.


    National Air Traffic Control Service says "safety has not been compromised at any time" with flight delays.


    Bournemouth Airport is also experiencing delays with both incoming and departing flights. An airport spokesman said a flight to Sweden had been delayed for around an hour and 10 minutes.

    He added: "The inbound flight from Alicante was due to arrive at 9.45 but is now estimated to be here at 12.10.

    "Then the outbound service (to Alicante), leaving at 10.10 is estimated to leave at 12.30."


    "Engineers are working to rectify the problem as soon as possible," says Nats of flights delays.


    Newquay Airport says the morning Gatwick flight had a 30 minute delay. There's only one other flight to London later this afternoon, and a spokesman said he expects the problem will be fixed by then. Passengers should check with airline or the airport if they have concerns.


    Problems at the Swanwick air traffic control centre also caused flight delays in southern England back in July.

    Dan, Gothenburg

    I'm sat in Gothenburg City at the gate waiting to board my flight to London Stansted... should be boarding now but have been delayed by 2 hours.. going to miss my connecting bus and train.. hopefully the train company will not charge me to get the later one... but I'm not holding my breath...

    Planes at Heathrow

    The BBC's Jon Hunt is at Heathrow where there are said to be delays of up to 40 minutes in departures.


    Ms Kontza went on: "I'm in the departure lounge where people are quite aggravated - they don't know what the problem is. That's what drives me insane, I'm sitting here on my iPad and I know what the problem is but no one has said anything.

    "I was expecting someone from Ryanair or an airline representative but nothing."

    1000: Brian Case, Birmingham

    We are trying to fly to Guernsey to see our new granddaughter and are delayed by three hours at Birmingham airport.


    At Stansted, Alina Kontza is waiting to fly to Poland in time for her mother's first chemotherapy session on Sunday. Her flight has been delayed for three hours and she is concerned it may be cancelled.

    She told the BBC that many flights are delayed and yet no one has explained to passengers the reason for the delay.

    "There's an elderly couple behind me and they think it's weather related - they are worried they might get stuck in a storm," she said.


    @DublinAirport says "we are working to resolve ASAP" delays hitting morning flights


    William Paton, from London, has been delayed at Heathrow. He told the BBC: "Having been on a cancelled flight to Aberdeen from City last night, I was put onto a red eye this morning... and am still on it, with delays of four hours estimated, according to the captain."


    Southampton Airport says morning's first flights have all left but others are delayed by one to two hours. No cancellations.


    Heathrow Airport cancelled 60 flights by 9.45am, including departures and arrivals.


    The problem is unlikely to be fixed until 1400 GMT at the earliest, the Association of British Travel Agents says.


    "Nats air traffic control has advised that, due to air traffic control telephone equipment failure at Swanwick, they are currently experiencing some difficulty switching from night-time to daytime operations.

    "Technicians are working to try to resolve the issue but have advised that this is unlikely to be before 2pm today," Abta says.


    Gatwick Airport says 20% of departures hit by delays - passengers warned they may face delays of "a couple of hours".

    1007: Chris Watt, Heathrow

    sent us this picture from Heathrow Terminal 5 where he is waiting for a flight to Liberia.

    People delayed at Heathrow

    Travel reporter Simon Calder tells the BBC there have been 40 cancellations in and out of London for British Airways alone.


    Luton Airport says inbound flights were unaffected but outbound flights had been hit.


    Independent aviation analyst Chris Yates warns it's going to be a day of frustration, and knock-on effects will last all day because of the planes backlog: "It will be a tough day for everybody".


    Travel expert Simon Calder tells BBC News Channel UK flight traffic "bursting at the seams" under normal circumstances.


    London City Airport says about 50% of its flights had been disrupted.


    Mr Yates said Swanwick controls all aircraft over the south of England, meaning thousands of passengers will be affected. He says some passengers on long-haul flights, coming from places such as China, India and the US may find themselves diverted to continental airports

    "For those waiting to fly out, it's going to be a case of sitting around the airport terminal until things get back to normal," he says.

    Passengers at Heathrow

    Passengers at Heathrow wait for news about their flights.


    Edinburgh Airport says 12 flights are currently delayed but there are no cancellations. Delays range from one hour and 45 minutes to three hours and 50 minutes.


    British Airways says customers on cancelled flights will be able to claim a full refund or be rebooked on to alternative flights.

    Alena Kontza, Stansted

    sent us this picture of the state of the departures board at Stansted this morning.

    Delays on departures board

    @celticbhoy67 tweets 2 hour (so far!) delay at Bristol airport. Oh joy!

    Alena Kontza, Stansted

    sent us this picture of people waiting for delayed flights at Stansted Airport this morning.

    People delayed at Stanstead

    If you're just joining us flights are being delayed across the UK and in the Irish Republic because of an air traffic control centre fault at Swanwick air traffic control centre. Airports affected include Heathrow, Stansted, Cardiff, Dublin, and Glasgow. Problems are expected to persist until at least 1400 GMT, with aviation experts warning that knock-on effects will lead to passenger disruption all day.


    @Ryanair tweets: ATC issues will continue until at least 4pm UK time affecting certain flights.


    Get the full story here and the BBC's Travel News UK airports page has all the latest information on the delays around the country.


    Nats says it cannot specify when the issue will be fixed but it is "working as hard as possible to solve the problem". A spokesman said the problem was linked to voice communications, which includes, but is not confined to, the telephone system.


    BBC's John Hunt on board Berlin-bound plane at Heathrow says: "We were held at a gate for an hour and a half after our flight was due to leave... They are telling us we don't have a slot until after midday".

    Swanwick, Hampshire

    Here's a picture of Nats' control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire.


    @Ta5herr tweets: Stuck at Bristol airport waiting to go Lapland!! Been here 4 hours


    Pilot Simon Moores tells the BBC: "The thing to imagine is an overturned gold fish bowl over the London terminals that controls in three dimensions where traffic is coming and going in very, very dense airspace. Heathrow and Gatwick and any other airports inside that space can't release traffic to go anywhere in the world unless there is clearance."

    Tobias Simons, Zurich

    emails: Currently stuck at Zurich airport. Flight to London City Airport was cancelled. Moved to a later flight to London Heathrow, which is now delayed until further notice. Ground staff here very helpful, but all keep shaking their heads and saying with some resignation, "we're sorry, but it's a problem with London Air Traffic Control again".


    The pilot Simon Moores says he is seeing about two hours delays at Heathrow.


    Juliet Kennedy of Nats tells the BBC: "We don't know when we are going to be able to rectify the problem"


    Juliet Kennedy of Nats says the problem is capacity. "We just can't manage as many flights as normal," she says, adding that it is up to individual airlines to prioritise who goes where.


    Nats spokesperson Juliet Kennedy tells BBC: "In terms of safety there is no problem at all" with flight delays.

    Jamie Lipton, Heathrow

    emails: I was due to fly from Heathrow to Glasgow at 10.20am. BA have boarded the plane and told us we will be on it until about 1.20pm before we take off. Happy Holidays!


    Pilot Simon Moores says the problem is that there is a different air traffic control system for different types of flow control - day and night - which is dependent upon air traffic levels and it seems to be stuck on the night system.


    Juliet Kennedy says Nats is trying to do everything it can to resolve the situation, including working very closely with the Irish authorities and the control system in Scotland which is operating normally.

    1124: Alec Laing, Luxembourg

    emails: Trying to get back to the UK from Luxembourg. Staff are telling passengers our 2-hour delay is weather-related, which is not entirely helpful. Luckily do not have to worry about a connecting flight as most passengers are.


    In a statement, easyJet says it is experiencing "severe delays to flights to, from and within the UK", which is expected to continue at all UK airports throughout the day, with cancellations possible later.

    It "strongly advises" passengers to check online for up-to-date flight information.

    1129: Hamza, Cardiff

    emails: 9am Dublin flight departed, and Malaga flight boarded. My flight is still delayed and my connection to Dammam , Saudi Arabia, mostly will be missed.

    A flight information board at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport

    A flight information board at Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport shows a flight cancellation.


    @PatBunton tweets: Stuck at Newcastle airport - a 3 1/2 hour delay

    Passengers queue to check in and to re-book tickets at Terminal 5

    Passengers queue to check in and re-book tickets at Heathrow's Terminal 5.


    Hamza is waiting at Cardiff airport for a delayed flight to Amsterdam, which was due to take off at 1025 GMT. He is worried about missing his connection in Amsterdam to Saudi Arabia at 1425.

    "All flights are delayed, we do not know when this delay is going to end. I have a connection at Amsterdam which I might miss. Merry Christmas (Nats)!" he says


    In Belfast, Neil Breen is sat on the runway waiting to fly to Portugal.

    "We were basically put on the plane and then the information was delivered that said we'd be sitting here on the runway for at least another hour, so that's hopeful. I think that everybody seems to be getting a little bit antsy, they want to get on with their holiday," he says.


    Nats' Juliet Kennedy explains why airports are unable to meet normal daytime demand.

    "At night when it's quiet we combine sections of airspace because the demand isn't there. As it gets busier in the morning, we open additional control positions and what happened overnight is that we had a problem with one of our systems which means we are unable at the moment to open the additional control positions".

    A flight information board is seen at Gatwick Airport in southern England

    Meanwhile at Gatwick, a flight information board shows flights delayed by about two hours.


    Meanwhile Stewart Sutherland, who was originally on the 0905 GMT flight from Southampton to Glasgow for a football match, is now expected to take off at 1230.

    "I'm not very happy, [Nats] haven't got got a plan B, why not? Once again we're just stuck and the passenger comes second."


    Take That singer Howard Donald tweets: Control tower failure at Heathrow has left me stranded for 2-3 hours at dusseldorf. Anyone know any games besides eye spy?

    A passenger sits on the edge of her trolley at Gatwick Airport

    A passenger sits on the edge of her trolley at Gatwick Airport.

    1210: Breaking News

    Nats operations director Juliet Kennedy tells the BBC that she did not think the problem had happened before, adding: "We don't at the moment know how long it is going to take to resolve."

    Nick Walker, London

    emails: Got on a 7:15 flight to Stockholm, luckily we finally took off just before 9. Now arrived in Stockholm and everything coming from the UK is cancelled for the rest of the day. Very lucky!


    At Stansted, Alina Kontza is still waiting to fly to Poland after a three-hour delay. She tells the BBC passengers were moved onto the plane but there is no sign of it taking off, adding that they had been given "no information whatsoever".

    "It's shambolic," she says. "People are aggravated, children are crying.. it's a nightmare," she says.

    Marian Hibberd, Guildford, Surrey

    emails: My parents are stuck at Shannon Airport, they were meant to be on an early Ryanair flight - but long delays in Shannon.


    Updated British Airways statement says "there will inevitably be a significant number of short-haul cancellations at some UK and European airports today".

    Richard Westcott BBC transport correspondent

    "By midday on a normal Saturday air traffic controllers at Nats would have dealt with 2,000 flights. By midday today, they'd dealt with 1,700."

    1242: Richard Westcott BBC transport correspondent

    "Nats organise the airspace at the UK's 15 biggest airports, so any problems there have a big impact. This will cause knock-on delays and cancellations all day today and probably tomorrow as well.

    "It's miserable for passengers but if it had happened in a few weeks time, when the airports are especially busy, it would have ruined a lot of Christmas's."


    Nats says "we now understand what the problem is" adding its engineers are working to solve it "as quickly as possible".


    "It's been nothing less than shambolic here at Stansted. We had absolutely no information whatsoever", says Alena Kontza, stuck on a Ryanair plane which is three hours late.

    Peter Bartlett, Longfield Kent

    emails: My daughter flying to Perth, was told to board their flight at 10am to depart at 10:50, just sat on the plane going nowhere, so far for 2 hrs. She will have missed her connecting flight to Perth from Kuala Lumpur and will have to wait another 10 hours for transfer before getting to Perth!

    Breaking News

    Nats statement at 1230 says Swanwick air traffic centre problems "expected to take about six hours to resolve".

    1258: Richard Westcott BBC transport correspondent

    "The internal phone system at Nats broke down. It meant controllers in the same room as each other couldn't pass on important data to each other.. so they couldn't open as many work stations.

    "Should be fixed by 6-7 tonight. This is totally different to the software problem they suffered earlier this summer. No news yet on the total number of flights that will be affected."


    Brian Davidson says he has been sitting on a Easyjet flight in Glasgow airport since 0900: "Now we've been informed that we need a crew change! Still no slot allocated. I've been sitting on the ground for under four hours. It's just not good enough."

    Rory Lodwell, Gatwick

    emails: In Gatwick North Terminal, awaiting info about flight to Geneva. Let's hope the snow doesn't melt and the beers don't get seen off before I get to The Oxford-Cambridge Varsity Ski Trip 2013!!


    In certain circumstances EU travellers can claim back up to €600 for delayed flights.

    Tom Flatman, Gatwick

    emails: 09.40 Flight from Gatwick to Dublin not expected to depart for at least another 2 hours. No representatives from Ryanair in sight and one passenger has missed sister's wedding.


    Paralympic sailor Helena Lucas has been tweeting of her flight delays but does add: "My whole Heathrow experience has been really rather slick and efficient considering the chaos!"


    Zoe Preston at Bristol says: "My flight to Paris is already delayed by two-and-a-half hours. They put us on plane without a working toilet".


    If you are just joining us, welcome to our live page as thousands of air passengers face delays to their flights across the UK and Ireland due to a glitch at Swanwick air traffic control centre. Stay with us for news updates, analysis from our correspondents and your stories, of course.


    Birmingham is just one of the airports being affected.

    A passenger arrives at Birmingham Airport, 7 December
    Tom Flatman, Gatwick

    sent us this picture of people watching the departures screens for updates at Gatwick today.

    People delayed at airport
    Marc Sweetman, Gatwick

    We've been sat in Gatwick's North Terminal for the past three hours waiting for our flight to Fuerteventura. We've just received a text from our airline informing us of the delays. Better late than never?


    It seems a problem with the air traffic control internal phone system caused the disruption. "At night, when it's quiet, sectors of airspace are combined," a Nats spokeswoman explained.

    "As it gets busier in the daytime the sectors are split out again and additional control positions are opened to meet the traffic demand. Because of the problem with the internal telephone system, it was not possible to open the additional control positions this morning, resulting in a significant reduction in capacity in some areas of UK en-route airspace."


    The spokeswoman added that safety had "not been compromised at any time".

    "We now understand what the problem is and our engineers are working hard to rectify the issues as quickly as possible," she said. "Everyone in our operation is continuing to work closely with our customers to manage the traffic and clear the backlog."

    1410: Alexandra Mackenzie - BBC reporter, Inverness

    emails: Delays at Inverness Airport for Gatwick and Luton. So far my flight is 2 hours late. There is a plane available here as flights have landed. The difficulty is getting a landing slot at Gatwick.

    1433: Breaking News

    Ryanair calls on the Civil Aviation Authority to intervene and prevent further chaos for thousands of passengers affected by ATC failure


    Delays at Gatwick meant this passenger was forced to sleep on seats.

    Woman sleeping at Gatwick Airport, 7 December

    In its statement demanding that the Civil Aviation Authority intervene Ryanair says: "Ryanair is calling on the CAA to intervene and prevent further chaos for thousands of passengers affected by this ATC failure.

    "While we acknowledge problems can occur, where is the contingency? It's simply not good enough and the CAA needs to act now. Over 100 Ryanair flights to and from the south of England have been affected, with 10 cancelled so far. We apologise to affected passengers, however these circumstances are entirely beyond our control."

    Jamie Gray, Gatwick

    emails: Stuck at Gatwick, flight was meant to be at 08:40, having to change planes as the toilet overflowed into the aisle! You couldn't make it up. People getting very restless. You can't blame the airport staff though.


    This undated photo shows staff at work in National Air Traffic Services in Swanwick.

    National Air Traffic Services in Swanwick (undated image)

    What rights does a passenger have if their flight is delayed? In certain circumstances, EU travellers can claim back up to 600 euros (£502), a factbox in our main story explains.

    1519: Michael Souto, Copenhagen

    emails: Stuck at Copenhagen airport. Supposed to take off at 2.30, now planned for 5.20. We'll see if that happens. On a lighter note, Easyjet gave me a voucher which I spent on a pint! The bar also has a buy a refill for half price offer. I can't say it's all bad news here. That could change though if I eventually have to stay overnight.


    Tom Flatman has given up on a weekend trip to Dublin after waiting at Gatwick for seven hours. He described would-be passengers as "angry and upset, crying and shouting".

    1538: Lisa smith, Norwich England

    Hoping to fly to Lapland at 06.50 in the morning from Norwich with my 6-year-old. Can't believe this is happening as 2 years ago we couldn't fly because of ice on the runway... we are doomed!

    1540: Steve, Loughborough

    emails: Arrived at Hamburg airport to find my 14.20 BA flight to London Heathrow cancelled. Fortunately I managed to get a transfer to the 13.25 Lufthansa flight with 10 minutes to spare. Now sitting on the train on the way back home. Thank you Lufthansa.


    These passengers were waiting in Terminal 3 of Heathrow Airport.

    Passengers at Heathrow Airport, 7 December
    1554: Stephen Potts, Edinburgh, UK

    emails: Got up at 4:00 to fly to Nice for the awards ceremony at Monaco International Film Festival. Made it to Heathrow and found all flights cancelled. Currently on train back to Edinburgh. If my screenplay wins my producer will have to give the tearful thank you speech!

    1556: Veronica Jackson, London

    emails: We were due at a wedding in Rome this afternoon, we got an email at 10am telling us our flight had been cancelled but we were en route (flight at 12pm). Such a shame it wasn't communicated better. No flights at all over European airspace, told to go home due to crazy waits, just got a refund from BA.


    It would be unusual to get compensation for a delayed flight in these circumstances, Nick Trend writes in the Daily Telegraph. However, you would be entitled to a refund or rebooking in the event of a cancellation, he explains, in a piece setting out passengers' rights.

    1609: Tariq Nawaz, Harrow

    emails: My EasyJet flight from Milan Linate to Gatwick has been delayed from 16.45 to 19.25. Staff informed us it was due to "radar failure" at Gatwick. A £4.50 voucher was given but other general information on delays and cancellations was only provided when asked, not volunteered. The 2 free telephone calls were not possible because check-in staff did not have the facility. Luckily wi-fi at Linate is free but there is nowhere to charge the laptop or phone.


    It may mean little to people stuck in queues at airports, but today is officially International Civil Aviation Day. According to a statement from the UN's civil aviation agency (the ICAO), the global air transport network is currently projected to double in size by 2030. That means 60m flights instead of 30m, and six billion annual passengers served instead of today's three billion.

    Breaking News Richard Westcott BBC transport correspondent

    Nats tell me flight disruption tomorrow is "inevitable" even if they fix things tonight.


    Paul Evans in Heathrow airport: I've been here since 10am, my flight back to Belfast was cancelled. I rebooked after queuing for over two hours. I'm hoping gate will open at 1700.

    Stephen Foulkes, Gatwick

    emails: Stuck at Gatwick on flight home to Isle of Man. Should have left 11.45. Sat on plane waiting for take off slot to be allocated!

    LC Sales, Macclesfield, Cheshire

    emails: Trying to fly from Vienna to Heathrow, then on to Manchester, we've been stuck in Vienna airport most of today, hopping to fly to Frankfurt then on to Manchester later tonight, not much fun.

    1630: Sandra Blakey, Bournemouth, Dorset

    emails: : Arrived back from Alicante this morning on the Ryanair flight into Bournemouth- we sat on the plane for 3 hours, were kept informed of the situation by the pilot and here we are. At least we were offered refreshments eventually by Ryanair (for which we had to pay) but it wasn't too bad!

    Edith Karnitsch, Norwich

    emails: Just arrived in Austria at my parents after a 2 hour delay from Stansted to Linz with Ryanair. Airport had announcements, everything felt calm and well managed. I'm very happy with how the delay was handled, Ryanair did seem to get most morning flights airborne.


    Juliet Kennedy, Nats operations director at Swanwick, has stressed that engineers are working to rectify the air traffic control telephone glitch being blamed for UK flight delays.

    "We are resilient, but we are not 100% resilient as today has shown, but this we were unable to deal with any quicker than we have today."


    The Nats spokeswoman added: "One of the important things to say to people is that this is not a safety issue at all, the impact has been on the capacity we can manage, rather than the safety of the aircraft."

    Manoj Paradkar in Heathrow airport

    emails: I have flown in from Singapore this morning, and my final destination is Newcastle. I have been at Heathrow since 6:00 this morning after a long overnight flight. Not a single flight for Newcastle has taken off. I am now holding a boarding card number three for the day for a 20.40 flight.

    1722: Richard Westcott BBC transport correspondent

    Instead of 3,500 flights, air traffic controllers have only been able to process 2,800 or so.

    1723: Richard Westcott BBC transport correspondent

    Something as simple as a broken internal telephone system has brought delays and cancellations for thousands of travellers today.

    The controllers at the air traffic control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire, use it to swap important data about aircraft, it's vital to help them perform their job even though many of them are sitting in the same room.


    Nikolas Forde flew into Heathrow from Houston this morning, en route to Aberdeen. He says: "I've just found out for the third time my flight has been cancelled at the last minute. With only one flight left today, I'm pretty sure the same will happen. Very poor communication."

    1751: David Heslop in Heathrow airport

    emails: My wife and I got to T5 at 8:00 this morning heading for Aberdeen. We have now been cancelled off the 9.50, 11.15 and 17.05 flights. Three cancellations in one day is a record for us - fingers crossed for the 20.00. Staff have been calm and mostly efficient dealing with the widespread disruption and most passengers are pretty sanguine about it all.


    Many flights to and from the Republic of Ireland have also been delayed, according to RTE.

    1830: @StacyGray45

    tweets: Is it just me, or would it be completely out of the question for airports to charter buses when they can't run domestic flights?


    Eurocontrol, which covers air traffic across Europe, reports: "Around 130,000 minutes of delay are currently expected with approximately 1,300 flights (almost 8% of the European traffic today) being severely delayed."


    The chaos has not gone unnoticed in the US, where the Washington Post reports "big flight delays in UK".

    Woman sleeps at Gatwick Airport

    Many stranded passengers have little hope that they're going anywhere soon.


    Passengers caught up in air flight delays will not be entitled to compensation, even if holiday plans are wrecked, says Victoria Bacon of the Association of British Travel Agents.


    The Association of British Travel Agents adds: "Typically, you can get compensation after, for example, a three-hour delay. But only if it's the airlines' fault.

    "Now obviously in this situation it's out of the control of the individual airlines so people won't be able to get compensation. However, they should be looked after by the airlines if they are subject to lengthy delays".

    Harry, Dublin

    emails: We're travelling with Ryanair or trying to. Been stuck in Dublin airport since 1330, original flight cancelled then booked onto a 1615, which was delayed until 1715 - went to the gate joined the queue only to be advised that the flight was delayed again until 1950, here we sit and wait! No compensation, no meal voucher, no information. Understand its not Ryanair's fault but come on Mike let's try and get some of that customer service you were talking about......

    1913: @DonaldsonGeorge

    tweets: An almost empty 767 from London to Edinburgh tonight. Strange when other earlier flights are delayed behind us? #luckyforsome

    1923: Richard Westcott BBC transport correspondent

    Ryanair have just told me more than 300 flights have been delayed today and 12 cancelled.

    1940: Breaking News

    Technical problems that caused delays and cancellations at airports across the UK and Ireland have been resolved, the National Air Traffic Service says.


    The news the technical problems have been resolved will come as a huge relief to many but air traffic officials have warned that knock-on delays are expected to continue tonight and into Sunday.


    Easyjet says it has managed to avoid cancelling any flights today but many have been subject to delays - from 10 minutes up to several hours.


    Nats, which controls the air traffic, has been saying more about the phone problem that has caused these delays. "This is a very complex and sophisticated system with more than a million lines of software. This is not simply internal telephones, it is the system that controllers use to speak to other ATC [air traffic control] agencies both in the UK and Europe and is the biggest system of its kind in Europe."


    It said that less than 20% of flights had been affected but these were disproportionately found in southern England because of the busy airspace.

    Will Amado, St Albans

    emails: Information from airports and airlines is extremely poor. Gatwick departures information shows flights departed that are still on the ground. EasyJet flights out of Lisbon have shown 85 minute delays when the flight is still on tarmac at Gatwick. Distressing for customers told to arrive at the airport at 18.00 hrs for a flight not leaving before midnight.


    Gatwick has warned of more delays this evening and urged travellers to check with airlines.


    The Script singer - and The Voice judge - Danny O'Donoghue is caught up in it. He tweets: Stranded @ the airport, anyone got any suggestions on passing time


    Flights at Manchester Airport are back to normal after minimal disruption, a spokesman has said.


    A British Airways spokeswoman says "a significant number" of short-haul flights have been cancelled at Heathrow, but the company is not giving figures.


    After all the travel misery, here's a happy customer. Philippa from Northumberland emailed to compliment British Airways: "The lady I spoke to was lovely and quickly rearranged my flights without any hassle. Such a pleasure to speak to someone who was so helpful and cheerful despite the fact that she must have been having one hell of a day."


    And that wraps up our live coverage of the flight delays. You can continue to find all the latest news in our main story. If you're still travelling, have a safe journey.


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