New record for UK flights expected on Friday

The UK’s most congested airspace is over south-east England. Credit: PA

The number of flights operating in UK airspace is set to reach an all-time high on Friday.

Air traffic control (ATC) provider Nats expects to handle more than six flights per minute and break the previous daily record of 8,854 set on May 25 2018.

The spike on Friday is due to a combination of factors, such as the bank holiday weekend, school half-term, the Monaco Grand Prix and Cannes Film Festival.

It may not be long before the record is broken again, as May 31 will see a surge in chartered flights and private jets flying from the UK to Madrid as Liverpool and Tottenham fans travel to the Champions League final.

Passengers at Gatwick Airport wait for information on flights. Credit: PA

The UK’s most congested airspace is over south-east England, with four of the country’s five busiest airports serving London.

Last summer saw a spate of air traffic delays throughout Europe, partly due to limited airspace capacity combined with ATC staff shortages and industrial disputes.

Figures provided by Nats show it handled a quarter of the continent’s air traffic in 2018 but contributed to just 2.6% of delays attributed to air navigation service providers.

Nats’ head of service performance Wendy Howard-Allen said: “The demand for air travel is increasing all the time.

“We’ve been planning for this busy summer period for a number of months – preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

“Forecasting how many flights we will have to handle from our centres in Swanwick and Prestwick is one of the first tasks.

“With many events coinciding at the end of May and in early June, it’s important to realise the impact this will have on air traffic.”