LONDON — Airspace over London was restricted following a computer failure on Friday that triggered chaos at the British capital’s five airports.
A Heathrow Airport spokesman said that “a technical problem” was to blame and that flights were “experiencing delays.”
NATS, which provides air-traffic control services in the U.K., clarified an earlier statement by European authorities who had said that airspace over the city would be closed until 7 p.m. (2 p.m. ET). NATS said there had been no closure but that capacity had been “restricted in order to manage the situation.”
The glitch was resolved by 4:20 p.m. local time (11:20 a.m. ET), according to a statement posted on the NATS website. “The system has been restored and we are in the process of returning to normal operations,” it said.
At Heathrow, passengers on United Flight 941 to Newark were told about the computer problem as they boarded at 3:30 p.m. local time (10:30 a.m. ET). United gate staff said the plane would be loaded with passengers and head toward a runway in the hopes that the computer problem could be fixed. Most passengers at Heathrow seemed unaware of the issue and no further mention was made during normal boarding.
Eurocontrol, the international organization overseeing air traffic control in Europe, had initially announced that no aircraft would be accepted in the skies over London for a three-and-a-half hour period.