Inquiry after air traffic control glitch delays flights

Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Ian Georgeson

AN investigation has been launched after passengers were left facing a string of delays at Edinburgh Airport following a technical issue with air traffic control.

All of Scotland’s main airports were affected by the incident yesterday morning, which saw a number of key flights delayed throughout the day.

It is understood the problem stemmed from “radio interference” on frequencies used to speak to aircraft pilots – with the cause of the interference apparently resting on a faulty piece of equipment.

Nats, the company which provides air traffic control services in the UK, declined to give any more details, but insisted there was “nothing to suggest any kind of attack on us at all”.

Last night, a spokesman for Edinburgh Airport bosses said they had been assured by Nats that “the situation is continuing to improve and delays are reducing”.

All flights at the airport were delayed yesterday morning – but the spokesman stressed that none had been cancelled.

He said: “There remains some knock-on delays as a result of airspace capacity restrictions in place earlier in the day.

“We are pleased to note that there has been no cancelations at Edinburgh Airport and we currently expect to meet demand for the number of flights planned for the rest of the day without creating any additional delay. We would encourage passengers to contact their airline to confirm the status of their flight.”

Gordon Robertson, director of communications at the airport, told passengers to consult their airline before heading to catch their flight, adding: “I’m sure air traffic control wouldn’t allow flights if anything was unsafe so I don’t think passengers should be worried unduly.”

A Nats spokeswoman said the cause of the interference had been identified, with the problem “isolated”.

She said: “We have had a technical problem overnight [on Monday] with interference on some radio frequencies that we use to speak to aircraft.

“It only affects part of Scottish airspace and flights from some Scottish airports may be delayed as a result.

“We have identified the cause, isolated the problem and the situation is improving. We apologise sincerely for any inconvenience.”

Speaking yesterday, transport minister Derek Mackay said he understood the technical issue has been “rectified and addressed”.

He added: “However, there is a knock-on consequence to the airlines so people should check with their airlines and airports to ensure that their flights are running.

“There has been a knock-on impact and a number of flights are delayed but I understand the technical issue has been addressed.”

Three flights from Glasgow Airport were cancelled – one to Gatwick and two to Amsterdam – with passengers experiencing delays throughout the day, while there were also a small number of delays on southbound flights from Aberdeen Airport.