German ATC Technical Issues Delay Flights Across Europe

Airline passengers are once again feeling the impact of travel delays as an air traffic control failure in Germany has resulted in the cancellation of dozens of flights.

Major German ATC center goes down

Once again, technical failures at an air traffic control (ATC) center have reared their ugly head, leading to the cancellation of numerous flights and leaving passengers’ travel plans in chaos. This time, Frankfurt Airport in Germany has taken the hit, where an early morning outage at the ATC center in nearby Langen was hit by a technical issue earlier today.

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Fraport, the operators of Germany’s largest airport, said that following the failure, there will be disruptions throughout European airspace and thus delays in operations and isolated flight cancellations at Frankfurt Airport.

German airline Lufthansa, which has its main hub in Frankfurt, responding to the fallout caused by the ATC failure, said in a statement,

“Due to a disruption at the German Air Traffic Control, the Lufthansa Group flight schedule to and from Frankfurt is affected. Please check the status of your flight before travelling. If your flight is cancelled, we suggest you do not travel to the airport. “

Software issues

This latest technical issue was reported to be linked to a software problem during the installation of an update at the Langen control center. Although the issue was resolved by 09:00 local time on Wednesday morning, travelers were told to expect delays and cancellations throughout the rest of the day before operations returned to normal.

Lufthansa operations from Frankfurt have been affected. Photo: Vincenzo Pace / Simple Flying

The Langen ATC center controls the lower airspace in the central regions of Germany, including some of the country’s busiest airports, including Düsseldorf, Cologne, and Frankfurt. The geographical area controlled by the Langen center stretches from Kassel to Lake Constance and from the French border to Thuringia.

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Seek information before travelling

Fraport urged passengers to prepare before trying to travel. In guidance issued on its website this morning, Frankfurt Airport was advising passengers,

“Passengers should allow sufficient time for their journey and arrive at the check-in desk as early as possible before departure. Passengers must also check their flight status in advance on airlines’ websites.”

More of the same

In recent weeks, staff shortages at airports and airlines combined with rising demand for travel have resulted in chaos for passengers in Germany as well as other European countries. Back in March, I reported on the industrial action by ground staff which affected operations at Frankfurt Airport for two weeks in a row.

Yet this issue is far more widespread than just Germany. ATC issues, whether they be technical faults or staff shortages, are plaguing the European airline scene, causing misery and delay for millions of travelers just as the northern summer peak approaches.

Frankfurt Airport has already seen industrial action more than once in 2022. Photo: Fraport AG

Compounding the miseries are delays and cancellations caused by staff shortages at airlines and airports, with both failing to adequately increase staff numbers to meet the pent-up demand for travel as the industry bounces back from the pandemic.

Numerous airlines are having to cut back services, re-route passengers, and manage operations crises almost daily as they struggle to meet their obligations to their passengers.

With increasing numbers of staff at various airlines across Europe (and beyond) also threatening industrial action, this summer is set to be a tough and frustrating one for potentially millions of airline passengers, who are seeking some respite after two years of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lufthansa will be hoping things settle down for the imminent start of the summer travel peak. Photo: Lufthansa.

Meanwhile, back in Germany, Government ministers are set to present their plans aimed at addressing the overall situation affecting commercial aviation in the country in the German parliament on Wednesday.

What are your thoughts on this latest ATC failure? What are your predictions for air travelers this summer across Europe? Let us know in the comments.

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