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BA flight arrives despite airspace lockdown

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Airline passengers queue at London's Heathrow airport on Friday. Britain's national air traffic body said a computer problem touched off troubles in the system at one of Britain's two air traffic control centres. The shutdown came at a busy time at the start of the weekend in a sprawling city with five commercial airports, including London Heathrow, Europe's busiest. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

British Airways’ flight from Gatwick arrived last tonight despite a lockdown of London’s airspace.

Hundreds of flights to and from London were disrupted on Friday, affecting thousands of travellers, after a technical failure at an air traffic control centre.

All airlines at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports were affected by the issue, said BA spokeswoman Sallie Singleton.

But BA 2233 managed to take off from Gatwick in the afternoon and arrived in Bermuda at 7.31pm.

“All flights now are extremely busy both outbound and inbound during the holiday season,” Ms Singleton said.

Bloomberg reported that London’s air space was locked down due to a technical glitch at the Swanwick air traffic control centre, which covers Atlantic approaches.

After fears that airspace would remain closed until 7pm UK time, the BBC later reported that the airspace was open but restricted.

The British news provider said that problems were reported across the country.

They also reported that the British government had called the scale of the travel disruption “unacceptable” and had asked for a “full explanation” of what had gone wrong.

At Heathrow and Gatwick, departing flights were grounded for a time, while other UK airports reported knock-on effects.

The BBC reported that at least 50 flights were cancelled along with delays at Heathrow and London City airports, with limited departures from Bristol, delays at Gatwick, London Stansted, and other airports throughout the UK.

The BBC also said that National Air Traffic Services, which runs the Swanwick centre, was launching a “thorough investigation” to “identify the root cause” of the disruption.

British Airways' flight to Bermuda arrived despite delays and cancellations in London (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)