Ryanair boss demands NATS CEO quits over weekend ATC failures at Gatwick

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has called for the resignation of NATS CEO Martin Rolfe after Gatwick airport’s air traffic control system collapsed again over the weekend.

The failure led to passengers facing hours of delays after an air traffic control (ATC) outage grounded dozens of flights. It comes after ATC failures in August left a quarter of a million passengers stranded and airports across Europe in chaos.

Ryanair claims these “repeated failures” show its time for the “overpaid” CEO of NATS to quit or be dismissed.

O’Leary said: “After the August NATS system failure, Martin Rolfe claimed it was a one in 15 million tech glitch. Yet here we are again three months later, and UK NATS fails again at Gatwick.

“Thousands of passengers today face long delays, diversions and cancellations as NATS under Martin Rolfe’s incompetent leadership fails again. It’s time for Martin Rolfe to go.

“At an annual package of over £1.5m this clown has repeatedly shown he is incompetent. If he won’t quit, then transport minister Mark Harper, who owns 50 per cent of NATS, should fire him.

“These repeated UK NATS system failures are unique to the UK and are not repeated in any other European ATC service. Our passengers want a competent UK ATC service and Martin Rolfe has repeatedly shown he can’t deliver it.”

Over the weekend, a spokesperson for Gatwick airport, said: “There was an outage to a local NATS system earlier this morning which has now been rectified.

“No cancellations have resulted from this, but some passengers may experience delays. We apologise for any inconvenience.”

A review into the failures by the UK Civil Aviation Authority is ongoing.

A NATS spokesperson told ARGS: “For a short period on Saturday morning [9 December], we had a technical issue at Gatwick that was quickly fixed.  To make sure safety was maintained, departures were paused temporarily before resuming around 8am.

“We worked with airlines to minimise delays and would like to apologise to those passengers whose journeys were affected.”

Image credit: CNBC Television (screengrab)