Saturday, April 17, 2010

Stop Bothering Us! Company That Runs British Air Transport Goes Offline in a Crisis

The for-profit company that operates air transportation in Britain, the National Air Traffic Services, NATS, has astonishingly gone offline in the current, worsening crisis.


As you can see here, the company is saying that "due to heavy Web traffic, the normal site is currently offline." Instead, a "holding page" is provided for general updates on the chaos. Air travel "restrictions," as the company puts it, remain in effect at least until 7 a.m. tomorrow. By "restrictions," NATS evidently means, um, total shutdown of the system.

A cynic might say that this is what you get when you take a vital government function like managing your national air-transportation system and sell it off to a profit-making corporation that, evidently, hasn't invested in the minimal technology to keep the public informed in an emergency, when "heavy Web traffic" would certainly be most expected. The biggest shareholder in NATS is the British government (49 percent), with most of the rest owned by a group including British Airways, easyJet, Virgin Atlantic and others.


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