Ryanair refuses to cancel Gatwick flights amid shortage of air traffic controllers

Irish carrier says British air traffic control problems ‘self-inflicted’

Ryanair is refusing to cancel services in or out of London airport, Gatwick, which has capped flights due to a shortage of air traffic controllers.

The airport is likely to cancel around 164 flights this week after limiting daily services to 800 until next Sunday, as sickness, including Covid, has cut air traffic control staff there by around one third.

Ryanair declared on Tuesday that it would not “be cancelling any flights to or from Gatwick Airport” as a consequence the UK’s National Air Traffic Services’ (NATS) self-inflicted staff shortages.

The Irish group added that it paid NATS almost €100 million a-year for a service that is repeatedly short-staffed and which collapsed completely on August 28th, leaving 360,000 passengers without flights and seriously delaying 900,000 more.


Disruption to Gatwick services on six separate occasions over the past four weeks followed “this shambles”, said the airline.

“Now Gatwick Airport is imposing a daily cap of 800 flights until Monday October 2nd and asking airlines to cancel flights which Ryanair will not be doing,” a statement stressed.

Ryanair operates Irish and European services from Gatwick, which is one of three major airports in London’s catchment.

Its rival Aer Lingus, which flies between Irish airports and the London gateway, confirmed that the cap will result in its cancelling one service only, on Friday. The airline is contacting affected passengers.

Ryanair demanded that NATS chief executive, Martin Rolfe, tackle staff shortages or resign.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas