Air traffic control: Passengers stranded as flights suspended
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Air traffic control: Passengers stranded as flights suspended

May 29, 2023

Thousands of holidaymakers from Yorkshire and Lincolnshire have faced flight delays after a technical fault in the UK's air traffic control system.

Passengers were left stranded after the majority of flights in and out of UK airports were cancelled on Monday.

Hamish Harron, 53, from Scarborough, was travelling back from Budapest via Amsterdam when he was told his ongoing flight was cancelled.

He has now decided to take an overnight ferry from Holland to Newcastle.

Mr Harron had been at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest with his wife and son, and was due to fly back to Newcastle on Monday.

He said: "On the way to the airport yesterday we were told that the Amsterdam to Newcastle part of our trip was cancelled, so we had to get a flight from Budapest to Amsterdam knowing that we couldn't do the final part of the journey.

"We were told by KLM we could fly you out in a few days to Edinburgh, but that is hundreds of miles away from where our car is in Newcastle, so I said how are we going to get there?

"They said well, public transport? But we weren't getting to Edinburgh until about midnight so there was no public transport."

He added: "We had to cancel that part of the flight so we are now on a train to the ferry port in Amsterdam, and are going to catch the overnight ferry tonight to get into Newcastle tomorrow morning.

"We should be getting back, and we are quite pleased about that actually."

Jack Bowman, from Halifax, West Yorkshire, has been stranded at Palma Airport since 16:00 BST on Monday, after a family holiday in Peguera, Mallorca.

He is travelling with his parents, his partner and their two children, aged 10 and six months.

He said they had slept on the airport floor and had no food or baby food for their daughter.

Mr Bowman said holiday company Jet2 had told him they should fly home at 21:00 BST on Tuesday.

"We've got another nine-hour delay ahead of us," he said.

"With a six-month-old baby, no baby milk, no accommodation, no money, we just want to get home."

Rafal Batko and his family, from Sheffield, spent the night at Leeds Bradford Airport after their flight to Krakow was cancelled.

Mr Batko, who was flying out for his mother and father-in-law's wedding anniversary party, said: "We've been here for 17 hours. We tried to get into a hotel but there was no space because everyone was in the same position."

Anna MacDonald, from Welton in Lincolnshire, spent three hours at Leeds Bradford Airport on Tuesday, waiting with her two children to fly to Lanzarote.

She was told at 06:15 BST that the flights would not be leaving and said her children, aged four and seven, were devastated.

"They had been so excited about going on an aeroplane and about seeing a foreign country," she said.

"We didn't even get as far as check-in and were waiting there for three hours.

"We are back home now and the holiday is definitely cancelled. People are suggesting I book a last-minute deal abroad but I don't trust the flights and I can't afford it anyway until I get my refund from Jet2.

"I would like to rebook the same holiday when all of this chaos is over, but this was the last few days of my annual leave so it's not possible."

Ian Smales, from Wakefield, was due to fly home from a family holiday in France when he found out their flight had been cancelled.

"We found out our flight to Leeds Bradford with Ryanair was cancelled as we arrived at the airport," he said.

"We queued in a long line to speak with the rebooking tickets people at the airport, who could only offer us a flight back on Friday which meant we would have to stay in France a further four nights, with me supposed to be back at work today.

"We said that was not acceptable and that we needed something better... but they said we would have to look for alternative flights ourselves from other airports.

"Eventually we have booked an easyJet flight to Glasgow tomorrow at 2pm and will have to get a hire car and drive to Leeds Bradford to pick our car up."

Mike Briggen faced delays at Dalaman Airport in Turkey, where he was waiting to fly back home to Hessle, East Yorkshire.

He said: "What was a great holiday has turned into a nightmare, we have for our kids tried to make the most of the time we have had to wait but it has tested our sanity."

He said the delay meant he would miss his mother's 90th birthday, and he had also run out of the medication he takes after suffering a heart attack.

Holidaymakers heading to and from the UK were expected to face disruption for days, Transport Secretary Mark Harper warned.

National Air Traffic Services (Nats) confirmed the fault just after midday on Monday, before it announced at 15:15 BST that it had identified and remedied the issue.

But it said it would "take some time for flights to return to normal" - as it launched an investigation into what went wrong.

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