Thousands of passengers bound for UK airports remain stranded on Monday following a "technical issue" that hit the country's air traffic control systems, which has since been "identified and remedied" but the disruption caused with hundreds of flight cancellations is expected to continue into the week.
The disruption comes on one of the busiest travel days of the year - with many people returning from holidays on the last Bank Holiday weekend of the summer.
The UK's National Air Traffic Services (NATS), which had "applied traffic flow restrictions to maintain safety" across UK airports, apologised for the disruption caused by issues in its flight planning system which was affecting its "ability to automatically process flight plans".
It said that engineers would be monitoring the system's performance as it returns to normal.
"We have identified and remedied the technical issue affecting our flight planning system this morning,” NATS said in a statement.
"We are now working closely with airlines and airports to manage the flights affected as efficiently as possible. Our engineers will be carefully monitoring the system’s performance as we return to normal operations,” it said.
It explained that the flight planning issue affected the system’s ability to automatically process flight plans, meaning that flight plans had to be processed manually which cannot be done at the same volume, hence the requirement for traffic flow restrictions.
"Our priority is always to ensure that every flight in the UK remains safe and we are sincerely sorry for the disruption this is causing. Please contact your airline for information on how this may affect your flight,” it added.
The NATS describes itself as the country's leading provider of air traffic control services, which handles 2.5 million flights and 250 million passengers in a "normal year".
Meanwhile, airlines and airports have continued to warn of "widespread disruption" while systems get back up and running as normal. Some travellers were forced to sit inside a plane for hours, while others have been stuck inside airports.
British Airways and several other airlines said it has made "significant changes" to its flight schedule due to the earlier air traffic control issue.
"The technical issue which limited UK air traffic earlier today has been fixed by NATS. However, schedules will remain significantly disrupted for the rest of the day. We ask passengers to only travel to the airport if their flight is confirmed as still operating,” Heathrow Airport said.
"Teams across Heathrow are working as hard as they can to minimise the knock on impacts and assist those whose journeys have been affected," it said.
An estimated 500 flights are believed to have been cancelled as a result of the glitch, which will continue to cause chaos at UK airports for days to come. Luton, Stansted, Gatwick and Manchester airports all reported problems.
Airlines including Ryanair, EasyJet, Wizz Air, Loganair and Aer Lingus had all warned passengers of delays or cancellations to flights and will now be working to try and cover the backlog.
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