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There is something ironic in the latest massive flight cancellation in the UK, this time reportedly due to a system failure at NATS, the UK air traffic controller.

The first victims are the travelers who are delayed or sometimes stuck for days. They blame the airlines, who sold them the tickets, for cancelling the flights. According to passenger rights, the travelers are entitled to refunds and compensations from the airlines.

Airlines are victims too, because the UK air traffic controller did not allow them to fly, because they face angry customers and because they have to pay fines. I agree that the last point is unfair: why would regulators ask airlines to pay for delays that they have caused themselves?

NATS, to some extent, are a victim too, because they probably did not have the resources and funding from the government to invest in people and technology to provide a reliable service. Air traffic controllers do a technical and stressful job.

Finally, the taxpayers are the victims and the ones responsible for the quality of the infrastructure. This is ironic because we can only blame ourselves.

By the way if blaming each other was the solution, we would already have a perfect air navigation infrastructure. What we need is a modernization program for the air traffic management in Europe, sponsored by the States, and supported by all.