Ryanair’s CEO has stated that British air traffic controls are the worst in Europe after more travellers have been affected by cancellations due to staff illness this week.
Michael O’Leary criticized the UK’s air-traffic control network, calling it “by far the least productive and most inefficient”.
Gatwick announced on Monday that it was forced to limit the number of flights this week due to an outbreak of Covid-19 in air traffic control personnel. A third of the staff was said to be sick, which meant that 165 flights were cancelled between Gatwick and other airports up to Sunday.
National Air Traffic Services (Nats), earlier this week, said that limiting flights is the “responsible” thing to do to minimize disruption for passengers. They added: “Our operational reliability in the tower will increase as our staff returns to work and as we move out from the summer schedule which is especially busy at Gatwick.
We will continue to train and recruit air traffic controllers as quickly as possible at Gatwick to ensure that we can return to a resilient operation as soon we can,a technical problem with the air traffic system, caused travel chaos in the UK a few weeks earlier. Hundreds of flights were cancelled.
Nats reported that its automated air traffic system experienced an “event one in 15,000,000”. It was forced to process flights manually for six hours.
Mr O’Leary demanded that the CEO of Nats be fired after accusing him a “p—-poor performance”. He claimed that Nats wasn’t actually short-staffed but had controllers who didn’t “show up to work”.
He said Martin Rolfe was “useless” and “incompetent”, and that he “should be removed and dismissed”, and added: “How he gets away with this is a mystery.”
He presided over the complete failure of Gatwick’s system on August 28 and 29, but continues to preside over the staff shortages.
Ryanair’s chief executive said that he will sue Nats in order to recover compensation for recent cancellations. Nats estimates that the airline pays almost EUR100m per year.
Mr O’Leary said that the network is not as useful as in the past, saying that airlines “don’t require that much ATC anymore”, and that aircraft are able to “talk” to each other.
The people who work in the tower of Gatwick are usually just a nuisance.
EasyJet, which has been impacted by resource shortages for more than 30 consecutive days since May, said that the situation was a result of a wave criticizing the UK air traffic control system.
Johan Lundgren is the CEO of easyJet. He recently stated: “Gatwick Airport, Nats and the Government need to develop a long-term plan for the air traffic control system at Gatwick Airport so that it can be more resilient and effective.”