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Control centre glitch delays travel

An aeroplane taking off09/07/13

By James O'Brien

Thousands of frustrated passengers were left facing delays on Tuesday as air traffic control firm Nats suffered "technical problems".

The issue at its Swanwick control centre, near Southampton in Hampshire, resulted in Nats limiting how many planes travelled over the south of England and took off from airports in the region.

A Nats spokesman said: "There will be delays, although we are not sure how long they will be."

There were some computer faults that affected flights in the firm's early days at the site around a decade ago but the centre had run smoothly until this week's incident.

Nats confirmed it was experiencing technical issues at its Swanwick control centre and assured air travellers it was working to restore full operations.

It stated the problems had not led to the closure of British airspace or delays to all flights in or out of Britain. However, Nats was forced to take precautions.

"To maintain safety, we are restricting the number of aircraft flying across the south of England and those taking off from airports. We regret any inconvenience this may cause; however, our first priority will always be the safety of the flying public," it said.

"We are taking every step to restore services and have contingency plans."

Passengers flying south from Heathrow experienced short delays, while flights heading to Jersey in the Channel Islands from Gatwick were also disrupted.

Southampton Airport was forced to tell travellers that a widespread air traffic control problem was restricting the number of aircraft flying in and out of the airport.

"Air traffic control are currently working to resolve this issue as soon as possible but please check with your airline for the most up-to-date information," it said.

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