Ryanair chief says Nats’ ATC failure ‘not acceptable’

The chief executive of Ryanair Group has said it was “not acceptable” the UK air traffic system had gone down on Monday without a back-up.

Michael O’Leary’s comments came as airlines and airports tried to return to normal operations following widespread cancellations on bank holiday Monday (August 28) after National Air Traffic Services (Nats) restricted the number of planes landing because of a “technical fault” with its flight planning system.

Speaking in a video, O’Leary said: “We have been in contact with UK Nats. We still haven’t had an explanation from them [about] what exactly caused this failure yesterday and where were their backup systems?

“It’s not acceptable that UK Nats simply allow their computer systems to be taken down and everybody’s flights get cancelled or delayed.”

He said Ryanair had to cancel about 250 flights on Monday, affecting about 40,000 passengers and 20 aircraft had not been able return to their home bases on Monday.

“Today, unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to cancel about another 70 flights. That’s a very small number out of the 3,200 flights we’re planning,” he added, speaking from the Ryanair operations centre in Dublin airport on Tuesday morning.

The airline is hoping to run “a couple of additional, extra flights” to rescue passengers but O’Leary said it is “very difficult” as the airline is “tight” on crews and aircraft.

“We hope, by the end of today, Tuesday that, from tomorrow, we’ll be running a normal operation; 3,200 flights with minimal delays but please bear with us,” he said.

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