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Gatwick Airport cancels 82 flights over staff sickness and Covid

Passengers and employees at Gatwick international airport

Gatwick will cancel nearly 82 flights over the next week due to short-term sickness and Covid among the air traffic control personnel. 

Airport CEO Stewart Wingate expressed frustration over the ongoing issues plaguing Gatwick's air traffic control.

He said approximately 30 percent of staff is currently unavailable.

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The most cancellations would happen on Friday, September 29, affecting 33 departures. 

However, no cancellations is likely for today (Tuesday, September 26) or Saturday, September 30. 

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These cancellations represent roughly three percent of Gatwick's planned departures during this period.

Nats, formerly the National Air Traffic Service, employs the affected air traffic control staff.

They will initiate discussions to determine which flights to cancel.

EasyJet will be the most affected among the impacted carriers, alongside British Airways and Ryanair.

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Johan Lundgren, CEO of EasyJet, said it is "regrettable that a temporary limit on capacity at Gatwick Airport is required."

However, he said it is "the right action by the airport so on-the-day cancellations and delays can be avoided."

He urged Gatwick and Nats to devise a long-term plan to enhance the resilience of air traffic services at Gatwick.

EasyJet would collaborate with the airport to address the implications for its flight schedules and will promptly notify affected customers.

It’ll offer options to rebook or receive refunds.

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This situation arose after Gatwick faced a series of cancellations on Friday and over the weekend.

A shortage of air traffic control staff was the major cause.

Mr Wingate said: "As a result of that we decided that we needed to take action.

"The reason that we are doing this is to provide as much certainty as we can, not only to the airlines but most importantly to the passengers who will travel this week, that the flights that remain scheduled will actually operate."

He warned of a potential increased risk of delays for other flights throughout the week.

As October typically witnesses reduced air traffic, Mr Wingate expects sufficient air traffic control personnel to manage the decreased flight volume.

It’d eliminate the need for further cancellations. 

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