Up to 10,000 Heathrow passengers affected by error

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AS many as 10,000 passengers at Heathrow alone were affected by cancellations caused by last week’s air traffic control computer failure at Swanwick.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin told MPs yesterday that the failure at the Hampshire headquarters of air traffic control company Nats caused 16,000 minutes of delays.

This compared to 126,000 minutes of delays when there was a computer glitch at the centre in December last year.

Other flights were delayed or cancelled in Southampton, Gatwick, Aberdeen and Edinburgh on Friday afternoon.

Mr McLoughlin added Nats was doing ‘an incredibly good job’ and lessons had been learnt.

He told MPs he welcomed an inquiry by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) into the chaos, saying he hoped the findings would be available by March.

He was appearing before the House of Commons’ transport committee and said: ‘The average delay this year in Nats is 2.5 seconds per flight, whereas the rest of Europe we’re taking about 30 seconds.’