NATS Prepares For Busy Summer 2024: All Eyes on Them?

NATS Prepares For Busy Summer 2024: All Eyes on Them?
Photo Credit: NATS.

This weekend, NATS begins to receive the taster of what will be a busy Summer 2024 season through Easter travel. Are all eyes on them following last year’s meltdown?

It is understood that the air traffic systems provider has been preparing “for strong demand over the next few months”.

Without further ado, let’s get into it…

NATS & Stakeholder Cooperation Strengthening…

NATS Prepares For Busy Summer 2024: All Eyes on Them?
Photo Credit: NATS.

For 2024, flights handled by NATS has increased by 4.7% so far.

Just last week, the increase was 5%, as the build-up to the Summer season begins.

There are plenty of events that will require travel into and out of the UK over the Summer.

Kathryn Leahy, the Chief Operations Officer of NATS had this to say ahead of the busy period:

“We are looking forward to a very busy summer with traffic levels pretty much back to pre-pandemic levels, and we have been preparing extensively with our airline and airport customers since the start of the year to ensure the UK network is managed safely and as efficiently as possible.”

“This also means working very closely with Eurocontrol to support their efforts across all aviation stakeholders to make sure Summer ‘24 runs as smoothly as possible across the whole European network.”

NATS has also reinstated their daily calls with airlines and airports, to help support them in the busy periods.

“We have a great overview of the entire network so we hope the daily calls will be useful.  Above everything, airlines and airports need stability in the system and to know if anything is likely to disrupt that.”

“We will be focusing especially on the first wave of departures in the morning, because that sets the scene for the rest of the day.”

Don’t Want To Repeat The IT Meltdown of S23…

NATS Prepares For Busy Summer 2024: All Eyes on Them?
Photo Credit: NATS.

Last Summer, NATS suffered a significant IT meltdown caused by invalid data from a French bee flight.

Customers such as Ryanair had been very vocal, with them impacted in the following way:

  • NATS claimed just 575 flights were “delayed” (approx. 100,000 pax), but CAA confirms over 700,000 passengers were disrupted.
  • NATS CEO, Martin Rolfe, claimed “engineers worked as quickly as they could.” Yet CAA confirms NATS engineers were not at work but were “at home due to the bank holiday”.

The airline blasted NATS saying that under the management of CEO Martin Rolfe, “UK NATS has a lack of pre-planning, documentation, and coordination.”

The CAA’s interim report sheds light on the discrepancies between NATS’s claims and the actual impact of the ATC collapse.

The report, carried out as an independent review, confirmed that over 700,000 passengers were affected.

This, says Ryanair, far surpassed the initially reported figure of just 575 flights.

The CAA’s report also points to systemic issues within NATS, including a lack of pre-planning, documentation, and coordination under Martin Rolfe’s leadership.

This raises potential concerns about the competency of NATS’ management team and their ability to handle critical situations effectively.

With this in mind, they will not want a repeat of what happened last Summer.


Photo Credit: NATS.

In conclusion, all eyes will be on how NATS performs over the Summer 2024 season.

Airlines will be hoping that the mistakes from Summer 2023 have been learnt, and that no failures will occur.

If another failure happens, then the scrutiny will increase, which could result in further interventions.

But for now, let’s see how the Easter period performs for the provider and go from there in the Summer 2024 season.

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By James Field - Editor in Chief 5 Min Read
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