FLIGHTS between the UK and Spain have been hit by an equipment failure at southern England’s main air traffic control centre.

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) have said that  ‘due to a technical problem at Swanwick we are currently experiencing some difficulty switching from night time to daytime operation. This may result in some delays for which we apologise. Engineers are working to rectify the problem as soon as possible.’

NATS is the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services. Each year they handle 2.2 million flights and 220 million passengers in UK airspace.

Ryanair  is advising that it is likely it will ’cause significant flight delays and possible cancellations’.

Stansted, Gatwick, Southampton, Bristol, Cardiff and Dublin airports have reported delays.

NATS said the glitch which it said was fixed at 7.30pm on Saturday night.

The firm said the computerised telephone system, which air traffic controllers use to handle flights, failed to switch correctly from night time to day time mode.

It meant they had to carry out the process manually, leading to 8% of all air traffic in Europe – around 1,300 flights – being delayed.

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