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Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport, said that it has imposed a cap on the number of flights due to the staff shortage caused by the Covid-19 outbreak and other medical reasons, with a total of 800 departure and arrival flights allowed daily.
On Monday, the airport cancelled dozens of flights due to Covid-19 outbreak among staff members.
“London Gatwick has today implemented a temporary limit on daily flight movements to prevent delays and last-minute cancellations for passengers.
“The decision was made alongside NATS [National Air Traffic Services], who run the London Gatwick air traffic control tower, and means the airport will be limited to 800 flights a day … 30% of NATS tower staff are currently unavailable for a variety of medical reasons, including Covid,” the airport said in a statement on Monday.
Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s CEO, expressed apologies for the inconvenience and recommended that passengers check the status of their flights directly with the airline companies.
“This has been a difficult decision but the action we have taken today means our airlines can fly reliable flight programmes, which gives passengers more certainty that they will not face last-minute cancellations.
“We are working closely with NATS to build resilience in the control tower, and this decision means we can prevent as much disruptions as possible.
“London Gatwick would like to apologise to any passengers who have been impacted by these restrictions,” Wingate in the statement.
The total of 164 cancellations will be evenly divided between the airlines until Sunday, the airport said.
Friday is likely to take the hardest blow, with 865 flights originally scheduled for that day.
On September 14, Gatwick Airport cancelled dozens of flights due to disruptions in the Air Traffic Control tower operated by NATS.
The disruptions were caused by a short notice staff absence, which affected around 6,000 passengers.
UK airports have been going through challenges due to a shortage of employees following Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
After the borders were closed, the airports went through major job cuts which affected their work.
Thus, in 2022, Heathrow Airport limited the daily passenger flow to 100,000 people till the end of last October.
Together with the strikes and the lack of employees, this measure resulted in the suspension of ticket selling for particular destinations as well as in the cancellation of thousands of flights and numerous delays.