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Dublin: 10°C Tuesday 24 May 2022

Knock-on delays at Irish airports after London computer meltdown

Heading to the airport? Check your flight status before you leave the house.

A COMPUTER FAILURE at an air traffic control centre sparked travel chaos in Britain this afternoon — just as the peak Christmas travel season got underway.

Heathrow Airport, Europe’s busiest hub, said 50 flights had to be cancelled and warned passengers to check their status before setting off.

After more than an hour in which some departures were blocked and arrivals diverted, Britain’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) said the system had been restored and services were returning to normal.

“We’ve restored the system to full operational capability and a thorough investigation is continuing,” it said, in a further update, at 7pm.

“We apologise for any delays and the inconvenience this may have caused,” a statement said.

We are investigating the cause of this fault but can confirm that contrary to some reports, it was not due to a power outage.

Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports were reporting delayed arrivals of flights from London this evening.

Some London-bound flights scheduled for this evening have also been cancelled.

“Passengers are advised to consult their airline or airline’s website BEFORE coming to Dublin Airport,” a statement said this evening.


The London airports system is the busiest hub in the world with around 135 million passengers a year.

“Disruption on this scale is simply unacceptable and I have asked NATS for a full explanation of this evening’s incident,” British Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin said.

NATS had earlier said that it was “restricting traffic volumes” following a technical problem at the Swanwick control centre in southern England.

“UK airspace has not been closed, but airspace capacity has been restricted in order to manage the situation,” it said in a statement on its website.

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Air France said around 20 of its flights were affected, including one flight headed for Dublin which was forced to turn back to Paris.

“Aer Lingus plan to operate all flights for the remainder of the day,” the Irish carrier said.

“However customers can expect lengthy delays on flights between Ireland, UK and Continental Europe.”

This isn’t the first time that a technical failure at Swanwick has caused travel chaos.

Hundreds of flights in Britain and Ireland were delayed or cancelled last year due to a similar problem.

Includes reporting from AFP and Paul Hosford.

- First published 4.01 pm

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Daragh Brophy

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