NATS statement on flight restrictions at London Gatwick Airport

25 September 2023

We apologise to everyone affected by today’s announcement.

We have worked very closely with Gatwick airport throughout. Given the levels of sickness we have experienced over the last few weeks we believe it is the responsible thing to do to limit the number of flights this week in order to reduce the risk of daily disruption to passengers using the airport.

We have trained as many air traffic controllers as possible this year in the Gatwick tower and have safely managed over 180,000 flights so far. However, with 30% of tower staff unavailable for a variety of medical reasons including covid, we cannot manage the number of flights that were originally planned for this week.

Our operational resilience in the tower will improve as our staff return to work and we move out of the summer schedule, which is particularly busy at Gatwick. We continue to train additional air traffic controllers and expect another group to qualify to work in the tower over coming months, ready for next summer. Even an experienced air traffic controller takes at least 9 months to qualify at Gatwick and very few are able to do so, as Gatwick is such a busy and complex air traffic environment.

We will continue to recruit and train air traffic controllers at Gatwick a fast as possible to ensure we return to a fully resilient operation as soon as we can.

See the statement from London Gatwick Airport here.

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