Huge queues at Stansted Airport as Gatwick flights diverted amid staff shortage

anglia 150923 stansted queue. credit Steve Grant/UGC
A snaking queue at Stansted Airport's passport control Credit: Steve Grant

Holidaymakers reported "manic" queues at Stansted Airport in the early hours, as flights were rerouted from Gatwick.

Stansted said arrivals would have been impacted by flights diverted from Gatwick.

Dozens of flights at the Sussex airport were cancelled, delayed or diverted on Thursday night due to air traffic control staff shortages.

One airline passenger Steve Grant told ITV News Anglia at 2am he had been waiting for at least an hour at Stansted's passport control.

He said: "Arrival hall totally full with queues of tired families, officials say someone doing a computer backup, and in addition flights are being rerouted from Gatwick. Welcome home everybody!"

Stansted Airport's passport control at around 2am on Friday. Credit: Steve Grant

Mick Woodhead, posted a photo on Twitter at 3am, and wrote: "Queue for the bigger queue at passport control."

Another passenger, Tracey, tweeted at 6am: "Anyone flying out of Stansted today, make extra time as queuing to get in to airport parking. Not sure why, not experienced this before, especially this early."

She added: "Stansted is manic. Never known anything like it."

Steven Alexander tweeted at 2am: "Stansted Airport, thousands of people unable to get through passport control because a system you bought in to replace people needs a system update."

Gatwick Airport confirmed on Thursday night that there was a short notice staff absence in its air traffic control tower, managed by National Air Traffic Services (Nats).

It meant 42 flights were cancelled or diverted while dozens more were heavily delayed - impacting thousands of passengers.

A total of 16 arrivals were diverted to a range of airports: including Bournemouth, Cardiff, Heathrow, Luton and Stansted.

Gatwick airport later said an additional air traffic controller was put in place and restrictions were reducing, allowing more aircraft to arrive and depart.

It comes just weeks after the August 28 Bank Holiday Money chaos - a Nats technical glitch meant more than a quarter of flights to and from UK airports were cancelled.

It affected around 250,000 people, and thousands of holidaymakers were stranded overseas for several days.

Cancellations continued for two more days as planes and crews were out of position.

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