The boss of airline body IATA says the UK’s air traffic control provider should compensate airlines for the disruption caused by Monday’s meltdown as the disruption continues for a fourth day.
Willie Walsh said the failure of the National Air Traffic system (NATS) will cost airlines around £100m.
In an interview with Sky News, he said NATS should be ‘held to account’ and ‘pay for the expenses that have occurred’.
NATS Chief Executive Martin Rolfe has revealed that the disruption was caused by ‘unreliable flight data’ and he insists that a system has been put in place to ensure it won’t happen again.
However, Willie told Sky News: “My confidence in NATS has been badly shaken and until we can evaluate the cause, and the actions taken by NATS to address this, we’re going to have doubts about whether they are the right party to continue to operate this system.
“I’m surprised that Martin is so confident that the problem won’t reoccur.
“We do need to see a lot more detail before we can be satisfied that we should have confidence in NATS going forward”.
He added: “It’s a shocking performance from NATS, it has led to massive disruption and clearly it’s unacceptable that we get this level of disruption at a peak time of the year – or indeed at any time of the year – and I think NATS have a lot of questions that need to be answered.”
Airlines are still trying to repatriate passengers stranded, four days after the four-hour ATC shutdown.
British Airways has extended its offer of free flight changes to all passengers due to travel on short-haul flights until Friday, 1 September. Passengers who still wish to travel should check their flight is still operating before travelling to the airport, it said.
EasyJet said it is continuing to provide extra capacity to bring affected customers back home. “To ensure that we can support as many affected customers as possible, seats on these flights will be offered on a first come, first served basis, so we would encourage impacted customers who wish to travel to call us as soon as possible,” it added.
English speaking customers should call easyJet on + 44 (0) 330 5515147.