UK’s Gatwick limits flights after illnesses cause staff shortages

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s second biggest airport Gatwick implemented a temporary limit on daily flights on Monday because of a shortage of staff in air traffic control caused by illnesses, including coronavirus.

The airport imposed an immediate cap of 800 flights taking off or landing a day until Sunday and said 164 flights will be cancelled because of the disruption.

London Gatwick boss Stewart Wingate apologised for the disruption and said it was “a difficult decision to take”.

“The action we have taken today means our airlines can fly reliable flight programmes, which gives passengers more certainty that they will not face last minute cancellations,” Wingate said in a statement.

In a separate statement air traffic control provider NATS said around a third of staff in air traffic control were unavailable for “a variety of medical reasons including COVID,” leaving it unable to manage the number of flights that were originally planned.

(Reporting by Muvija M. Editing by Andrew MacAskill)