Heathrow passengers facing delays after staff shortages and strong winds


  • By Dearbail Jordan
  • BBC News

Airline passengers are facing delays at Heathrow Airport after air traffic control imposed restrictions on how many planes can land or take-off.

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) confirmed to the BBC that “short notice staff absence and strong winds” had led to limits being put in place.

It added: “We expect the situation to improve this afternoon.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said there “may be minor changes” to flight schedules.

The airport declined to say how many journeys will be affected but said passengers should check with airlines.

British Airways confirmed that it has made “some adjustments to our short-haul schedule”.

There are normally about 175 short-haul BA flights that land at Heathrow a day.

Travellers took to X, previously Twitter, to vent their frustration with some concerned that they will miss connecting flights to other destinations. Some are reportedly facing hours of delays.

NATS has been criticised in recent months for disruption at UK airports. In late August, thousands of flights were cancelled or disrupted when the UK’s air traffic control systems suffered a technical failure.

Just over a fortnight later, flights at Gatwick were cancelled, delayed or diverted at short notice because of a shortage of air traffic controllers.

On Sunday, NATS said there was “short notice staff absence in the tower”, as well as strong winds.

A spokesperson said: “We are working hard to minimise disruption, working closely with Heathrow airport and airlines. Passengers should check the status of their flight with their airline.

“Restrictions of this sort are only ever applied to ensure safety and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

BA said that it has “contacted affected customers to apologise and offer them rebooking options or a full refund”.

A spokesperson for Heathrow, said: “We want to reassure passengers that our colleagues are working in close collaboration with our airline and air traffic control partners to get them safely on their journeys as quickly as possible.

“We encourage passengers to check with their airline for the latest information.”


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