Britain's Heathrow recovers after flight chaos

Britain's Heathrow recovers after flight chaos

LONDON - Heathrow Airport cancelled 38 flights on Saturday as it recovered from a computer glitch that wreaked havoc with the London airport system, the world's busiest hub.

"There are 38 flights cancelled today as a result of yesterday (computer fault)," said a Heathrow spokesman, adding that 1,300 flights were scheduled Saturday to and from the airport.

"But we started up very well this morning, so I'm hopping after that we'll get back to normal," he said, adding that most of the cancellations were caused by air crews becoming stuck in the wrong place and urging passengers to check with their airlines before going to the airport.

Computer failure the state-of-the-art £700-million (S$1.4 billion) Swanwick control centre near Portsmouth on the southern English coast briefly shut down Britain's skies on Friday.

Departures were blocked for more than an hour on Friday and arrivals diverted when NATS, Britain's main air navigation service, restricted traffic volumes.

The London airports system, including airports such as Gatwick, Stansted and Luton, is the busiest hub in the world with around 135 million passengers a year.

London's Heathrow alone is Europe's busiest in terms of passenger numbers, and the world's busiest for international passenger traffic.

British media reported that there had been a "radar display issue".

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

Transport minister Patrick McLoughlin called the disruption "simply unacceptable" and said he had asked NATS for a full explanation.

"I also want to know what steps will be taken to prevent this happening again," he added.


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