Three days after the Nats air traffic control failure on Monday, flight schedules are returning to normal, however some delays and cancellations persist.
According to aviation analyst Cirium, the worst-affected airport has been Heathrow, which has seen the highest number of cancellations on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, flights to Frankfurt and Los Angeles have been cancelled, as well as departures to Hong Kong, where the powerful typhoon Saola is expected to hit on Friday.
Cirium’s data show a considerable reduction in airline disruption since Monday, when around 27 per cent of all departures and arrivals were cancelled. That number fell to around 6 per cent on Tuesday and 2 per cent on Wednesday.
How many flights are cancelled and delayed today?
On Monday and Tuesday, the worst-affected airports were Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester, while on Wednesday they were Heathrow, Manchester and Edinburgh.
As of 9am on Thursday, seven flights from UK airports had been cancelled, and nine arriving in to UK airports. A handful of British Airways flights are showing as delayed from Gatwick, to destinations including New York, Alicante, Seville and Thessaloniki.
EasyJet says it is now operating its normal schedule, with five extra repatriation flights and operating larger planes to busy destinations to bring delayed passengers home.
A spokesperson said that the airline is “contacting customers who we know are yet to return home to try and get them on earlier flights”, with seats offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Ryanair and British Airways have said they are both back to operating a normal schedule and Virgin Atlantic has no delays or cancellations resulting from the ATC disruption. Jet2 says that its customers due to travel on Thursday and Friday “should travel to the airport as normal, unless we advise otherwise, and continue to monitor flight information.”
Heathrow’s current advice states that “while there is still some disruption due to Monday’s air traffic restrictions, most passengers will be able to travel as planned through [the airport] today.”
What should I do if my flight is delayed or cancelled?
Your first port of call should be the airline. If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund within seven days of the date of cancellation, or an alternative flight at the earliest opportunity.
Given that this is a peak travel period when many flights are full, an alternative flight could be with a different airline.
If you are not offered this option, you have the right to book an alternative flight (the costs should be reasonable, ie you should book a flight as close to the standard of the original seat as possible) and claim back the cost from your airline. Make sure you keep all receipts.
If you are at the airport and your flight is delayed or you are waiting for a re-routed flight, you are also entitled to care and assistance such as a reasonable amount of food and drink, and two free phone calls, as well as accommodation and transfers if the replacement flight departs the following day.
Again, if this is not provided by your airline, you have the right to organise it yourself and claim back the cost with receipts.
Since airlines did not cause this week’s disruption, compensation will not be due to affected passengers. However, they should not be left out of pocket as a result.
Airlines could, in future, face significant fines if they fail to support their customers during disruption such as this.