‘I could be stuck in Portugal for a week because of air traffic control chaos’

A British man has said he could be stuck in Portugal for a week due to the ongoing air traffic control chaos which left thousands of Britons stranded.

Neil Scott, from Glasgow, said he was due to fly home on Monday evening but has not been able to do so.

EasyJet has reportedly offered Mr Scott an alternative flight, but this doesn’t leave until Tuesday, September 5.

Mr Scott, a care worker, told LBC he would have to take unpaid leave if he had to wait that long and that his wife would be late back to her job at a school.

The couple were on holiday with their two sons when the air traffic control chaos happened.

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Mr Scott said he had to leave his hotel room and head to the airport even though he knew his flight had been cancelled.

He said there were large queues when he arrived at the airport and that when he finally spoke to a staff member he found something shocking.

He said: “There was no information whatsoever, there was no possibility of getting any questions answered about where we stay, do we get alternative flights, do we get meals paid for, compensation, anything?”

Mr Scott added that he was given a sheet of paper with a contact number for EasyJet. Despite several attempts, he has not been able to get through to anyone, he claimed.

Mr Scott said that since he has been offered a replacement flight he cannot book alternative flights and claim a refund.

Mr Scott is one of thousands of passengers who have been affected after widespread air traffic control failure in the UK on Monday.

NATS (National Air Traffic Services), one of the leading providers of air traffic control in the UK, said it had “identified and remedied” the technical issue which grounded hundreds of aircraft.

On Monday, the operations director of NATS, Juliet Kennedy, said the issue was with an automatic system that provides controllers with details of every aircraft and its route. When the fault occurred, the system stopped working.

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Ms Kennedy said: “The issue we had earlier meant that our automatic system, which provides controllers with details of every aircraft and its route, wasn’t working.

“Instead, to manage safety, we had to limit the number of flights we could manage. Our teams worked hard to resolve the problem, and I’m pleased to say it was fixed earlier this afternoon.

“However, it will take some time for flights to return to normal and we will continue to work with the airlines and the airports to recover the situation.

“Our absolute priority is safety and we will be investigating very thoroughly what happened today.”

Ms Kennedy added: “Again, I would like to apologise for the impact on the travelling public and to tell you that our teams will continue to work to get you on your way as soon as we can.”

Following the incident, Heathrow Airport tweeted: “We apologise for any inconvenience as a result of the Nats technical issues today.

“The issue has been resolved however schedules remain significantly disrupted.

“If you are travelling on August 29, please ensure you contact your airline before travelling to the airport.”

In a statement, EasyJet said: “While the majority of our flying programme is operating as planned today, the knock-on impact of yesterday’s UK ATC systems failure means that some flights this morning were unfortunately unable to operate.

“We notified customers in advance, providing them with options to transfer their flight for free or receive a refund to help them rearrange their plans.

“While this is outside of our control, we apologise for the difficulty this has caused for our customers and we remain focused on doing all possible to assist and repatriate them as soon as possible at this very busy time of year.

“We recommend that all passengers continue to check their flight status on our Flight Tracker for real-time information before travelling to the airport.”

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