UK flights have been thrown into chaos after a technical problem at the southern England headquarters of air traffic control company Nats.
Air traffic management company Eurocontrol said there had been “a failure” at the centre and airports would not be able to accept any traffic until 6pm UK time.
At around 4.15pm Nats said the system had been restored and it was in the process of returning to normal operations.
Nats said: “We can confirm that a technical problem has been reported at Swanwick air traffic control centre. We apologise for any delays and our incident response team has been mobilised.
“Every possible action is being taken to assist in resolving the situation and to confirm the details. Further information will be released as it becomes available.”
Earlier, Heathrow said there were no aircraft departing or arriving at the west London airport, and had claimed all London airspace would be closed until at least 7pm.
One passenger caught up in the travel chaos was Matt Warren.
He tweeted: “Stuck on the tarmac at Heathrow airport. Air traffic control failures. No flights in or out. ”
Sports reporter for PA, Simon Peach, landed this afternoon at Heathrow after visiting Istanbul to cover Arsenal's Champions League tie against Galatasaray.
He said that passengers were stuck on his plane because their gate was being blocked by a grounded aircraft.
He said: “Pretty much as soon as we touched down the pilot came over (the radio) and said ’I’m really sorry about this but I have just been informed that no planes are departing from the south of England’.
“He said that as a result of the fact that the gate we were going to go in has a plane there we were to expect a considerable delay.
“At the moment we are just taxiing aimlessly as far as I can tell.”