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Ryanair Boss Blasts British Air Traffic Agency After Second Computer Meltdown Delays Flights at Gatwick Airport

Ryanair Boss Blasts British Air Traffic Agency After Second Computer Meltdown Delays Flights at Gatwick Airport

people in an airplane with people wearing masks

The outspoken boss of Ryanair has lashed out at the British air traffic agency after a localised computer outage led to flight delays and cancellations at Gatwick Airport on Saturday.

The outage was fairly short-lived and nothing like the massive computer meltdown back in August when two important systems run by the NATS agency went into failsafe mode because of one erroneous flight plan filed by a French airline.

Nonetheless, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary blasted his counterpart at NATS, calling on Martin Rolfe to resign over the latest IT fiasco, saying the ‘overpaid’ chief executive should either step down or be sacked.

“After the August NATS system failure, Martin Rolfe claimed it was a 1 in 15 million tech glitch. Yet here we are again 3 months later, and UK NATS fails again at Gatwick,” O’Leary said on Saturday evening.

“Thousands of passengers today face long delays, diversions, and cancellations as NATS under Martin Rolfe’s incompetent leadership fails again,” O’Leary continued.

O’Leary described Rolfe, who is said to earn an annual salary of £1.5 million, as a ‘clown’ who has ‘repeatedly shown he is incompetent’.

NATS is a privatised air traffic control agency but the British government owns half of the company. O’Leary wants the government to take action and force Rolfe out if he doesn’t resign of his own accord.

“These repeated UK NATS system failures are unique to the UK and are not repeated in any other European ATC service,” O’Leary continued.

Ryanair was one of the most vocal airlines following the NATS system outside in August which resulted in the cancellation of at least 1,500 flights and delayed thousands more.

Describing the official report into the meltdown as a ‘whitewash’, Ryanair demanded NATS offer compensation for the disruption, but the agency said it wasn’t within its ‘remit’ to reimburse airlines for any costs they had incurred.

O’Leary claims Ryanair currently pays NATS more than £100 million per year for air traffic control services.

NATS has not yet publicly commented on the latest meltdown which was localised to Gatwick Airport.

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