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British airport delays may last days, government rules out cyberattack

Flight officials said to expect delays to continue into Tuesday after technical issues limited flying in Britain on Monday. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE
Flight officials said to expect delays to continue into Tuesday after technical issues limited flying in Britain on Monday. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Although the "technical issues" that haunted British commercial aviation on Monday have been fixed, the delays at the country's busiest airports are expected to last for days, officials said on Tuesday.

Airlines reported "significant delays" on Monday while officials scrambled to fix the problems identified by the National Air Traffic Services. Thousands were left stranded in Britain while the issues were being resolved.

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Those travel issues continued into Tuesday. According to the airline tracking website Flight Aware, 16% of the flights taking off from London's Heathrow Airport were delayed on Tuesday morning.

Another 20% of the flights going into London's Gatwick airport were delayed while 10% of flights traveling to Manchester saw a pause as well.

British Airlines said it would allow flyers who were slated to travel on Monday and Tuesday to change their flights free of charge to relieve congestion. Ryanair said it had been forced to delay or cancel some flights, and Jet2 said significant delays were expected on all of its flights to and from Britain.

"Airlines will have a major headache now, looking after customers and getting the planes back to some normal schedule again," Aviation expert Sally Gethin told the BBC. "I think we are going to see sizable disruption in the coming hours and tomorrow, and I think for some people there could be a knock-on effect into later this week."

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British Transport Secretary Mark Harper ruled out a cyberattack but did not know what else could have caused the "technical issues."

"Airlines have a responsibility either to get people back on a flight to get them home or to pay for them to be accommodated and to sort out accommodation of them, and for food or drink as well," Harper said. "If they don't do it people can pay for reasonable costs themselves and claim back from their airlines.

"There was a technical issue with the flight planning system that will be looked at in detail. When there is a significant issue like this ... the CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] has to do a report on an incident of this magnitude and report back to me."

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