TRAVELLERS using Leeds Bradford Airport have told of their nightmare after an air traffic control failure paralysed the skies above Britain.

ATC provider National Air Traffic Services (Nats) suffered what it described as a “technical issue” preventing it from automatically processing flight plans.

This resulted in flights to and from UK airports being restricted while the plans were checked manually.

Nats said at 3.15pm on Monday the problem was resolved, but disruption continued into Tuesday as many aircraft and crews were out of position.

Analysis of flight data websites by the PA news agency shows at least 281 flights – including departures and arrivals – were cancelled on Tuesday at the UK’s six busiest airports.

This consisted of 75 at Gatwick, 74 at Heathrow, 63 at Manchester, 28 at Stansted, 23 at Luton and 18 at Edinburgh.

Many other flights were significantly delayed.

Rafal Batko and his family, from Sheffield, spent the night at Leeds Bradford Airport after their flight to Krakow was cancelled.

Mr Batko, who is flying out for his mother and father-in-law’s wedding anniversary party, told the PA news agency: “We’ve been here for 17 hours. We tried to get into a hotel but there was no space because everyone was in the same position.

“It’s stressful but fingers crossed we’ll get on one today. If not we’ll have to go home, we are tired and everything is too expensive to buy.”

Andrew and Michelle Fawcett told PA they were “absolutely gutted” when they arrived at the airport to be told their flight to Crete had been cancelled.

Mr Fawcett said: “Our holiday company told us to proceed to the airport as normal and when we got here someone from Jet2 told us our holiday had been cancelled. Not, ‘we can get you on a later flight,’ just cancelled.

“We’ve since been told Jet2 are trying to contact everyone to let them know if and when they can get them on another flight, but it may be up until Friday, our holiday company said. We’re going to go back home, that’s all we can do.”

Friends Gillian Beggs, Clare Convery and Kay Smith have missed two days of their walking holiday in Krakow after both their first flight from Manchester and rescheduled flight from Leeds Bradford Airport were cancelled.

Ms Smith told PA: “We managed to get in a hotel last night but it’s all costing quite a lot of money, with rescheduling and travel costs of getting here from Manchester.

“We’re frustrated and worried but we have to be pragmatic. There’s nothing we can do about it now.”

Katrina Harrison and her family – including one-year-old twin grandchildren – spent the night at Leeds Bradford Airport after their flight to Antalya was cancelled on Monday afternoon.

Ms Harrison, from Stockton-on-Tees, told the PA news agency: “We were given a bottle of water, a KitKat and a packet of crisps but no proper food. Apparently some people have got vouchers but we haven’t been given any.

“All the shops sold out of food and drink last night.

“We weren’t given a blanket, we’ve been absolutely freezing.

“There were no hotels to stay in, we couldn’t get the car out of the car park.

“We haven’t slept, we tried to sleep on the floor but couldn’t. Luckily the children could sleep in the pram.

“The holiday was supposed to be a family celebration of a few things. We’ve spent £12,000 on it and we’ve been treated like muck.

“We’re hoping to get on a flight tonight but if it doesn’t happen tonight we’ll have to go home. We can’t keep sitting here with the babies.”