Carmichael calls for clarity on cause of mass air traffic disruption

28 Aug 2023

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has called for clarity on the cause of chaos in UK flights today, and warned of a “bigger picture” in the dangers of over-centralisation of services such as air traffic control.

A "technical issue" has hit UK air traffic control systems, with thousands of people now facing flight delays. Holidaymakers are stuck all over the UK and abroad, with the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) applying restrictions to traffic flow for safety.

Several airports across the UK, and airlines including Ryanair, EasyJet, Wizz Air, Loganair and Aer Lingus have all warned passengers of delays or cancellations to flights. The problem was first publicly acknowledged by Loganair before NATS admitted the issue.

Mr Carmichael said:

“The priority today has to be to get services back up and running, and eliminate disruption for passengers as quickly as possible. We then need to be told how this chaos happened. The fact that many learned of the cause not through the national air traffic agency but through an individual airline is concerning.

“Scotland and the isles in particular rely on our air links to the rest of the United Kingdom. Confidence in the resilience of those links is essential – and that will only come through clarity on how such a problem occurred and how it will be avoided in future.”

He added:

“There is a bigger picture to consider here as well. Centralisation of services – like air traffic control – is often sold on the basis of efficiency savings. Whether or not that promise holds up in reality, today should be a reminder that putting all your eggs in one centralised basket can leave you vulnerable when things go wrong. That is a lesson that all governments need to learn.”