It is “staggering” that the UK’s air traffic control system collapsed due to false flight data, the former boss of British Airways has said, responding to explanations given by bosses from Britain’s air traffic operator.
Britain’s airports have been heavily disrupted over the last few days after a “network-wide failure” of UK air traffic control resulted in the cancellation of around 2000 flights, leaving many passengers stranded.
Martin Rolfe, the chief executive of the National Air Traffic Service (NATs), which operates Britain’s air traffic control system, has said that the disruption was caused by a problem with incoming flight data.
Willie Walsh, who now serves as director general of the International Air Transport Association, told BBC Radio 4’s today programme this morning that the “explanation doesn’t stand up from what I know of the system.”
“This system should be designed to reject data that’s incorrect, not to collapse,” he explained.
“If that is true, it demonstrates a considerable weakness that must have been there for some time and I’m amazed if that is the cause of this,” he said.
“I would imagine that at an industry-level, we’ll be getting close to £100 million of additional costs that airlines have encountered as a result of this failure,” Walsh said.
He added: “It’s very unfair because the air traffic control system which was at the heart of this failure doesn’t pay a single penny.”