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Harper to meet aviation chiefs after air traffic control disruption

Aviation chiefs will be urged by Transport Secretary Mark Harper to do everything possible to return passengers still left stranded by the air traffic control (ATC) failure.

Flights to and from UK airports were restricted for several hours on Monday afternoon as National Air Traffic Services (Nats) was unable to process flight plans automatically.

Mr Harper is meeting Nats, the Civil Aviation Authority, Border Force, airlines, airports and trade groups on Friday “to discuss the latest situation ahead of the start of the new school year” in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“I’m closely monitoring the latest developments following Monday’s air traffic control failure,” the Transport Secretary said.

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“Although operations have nearly returned to normal, many people are still waiting for their rebooked flights

“Airlines have worked incredibly hard to fly passengers back, and I remain in contact with industry to ensure we’re doing everything possible to get passengers home as quickly as possible.”

Nats said an “unusual piece of data” it received forced it to switch to manual checks.

More than a quarter of flights were cancelled on Monday, and the knock-on effect continued for two more days.

This week’s disruption came at one of the worst times of the year as there is little spare capacity due to it being the end of the summer break for many schools.

Thousands of holidaymakers are still stranded overseas as many flights from popular destinations are full.

Nats is conducting an inquiry into what happened and will send a preliminary report to Mr Harper on Monday.