Air traffic controllers prepare for busiest day

- London, U.K.

Air traffic controllers at NATS are gearing up for what will likely be the busiest day of the year as millions of holidaymakers begin their summer getaway.

With many schools across England breaking up for the summer holidays, air traffic controllers across the UK are preparing to handle around 8,000 flights today (24 July) as people fly away in search of a well-earned break.

Routes to all the usual holiday destinations in Spain, the Canaries and southern Europe are expected to be busy and NATS has been preparing for weeks to ensure flights get away safely and with the minimum of delay.

July is always a busy month for air traffic with 230,000 flights recorded in July 2014, around 1,000 more a day compared to the usual monthly average. Preparation and planning for big peaks in demand begins months in advance with NATS analysing airline schedules and airport capacity to make sure it has the resources to safely handle the expected demand.

That plan is then constantly tweaked and updated.

Juliet Kennedy, Operations Director at NATS’ Swanwick Control Centre, Hampshire said: “We have been working incredibly closely with our airline and airport partners to make sure the whole system is prepared and ready to handle today’s influx of passengers and flights. We want to make sure everyone can get away for their well-earned break easily, efficiently and safely.”

NATS manages the UK’s busy airspace from its two air traffic control centres at Prestwick, Ayrshire and Swanwick, Hampshire. Air traffic controllers at Swanwick have responsibility for the airspace over most of England and Wales, including the busy London airports where in excess of 3,500 flights take-off or land from just six runways.

Last year NATS choreographed safe journeys for a total of 2.2 million flights, an increase of 2.5% on the year before. Yet despite the growing demand to fly, 99.8% of those flights experienced no air traffic control delay at all.

Video: Air traffic controllers prepare for the busiest day

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