Air traffic controllers have said that UK skies are “exceptionally crowded” as the number of flights hits a record high.

Air traffic controllers have warned that UK airspace will reach capacity on Friday, with more than 8,800 flights scheduled over a 24 hour period.

As many as 770,000 planes will travel through UK airspace over the summer — 40,000 more than last year.

An estimated 2.4m UK holidaymakers will be heading overseas, according to the travel association Abta.

The UK’s National Air Traffic Control Service (NATS) has been stretched to the limit, the BBC reported.

Martin Rolfe, chief executive of NATS said:

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We are approaching the limit of what the skies can handle with the airspace we have in place. The routes we currently have in place are becoming exceptionally crowded, and on the busiest days we sometimes have to reroute aircraft to make sure we can get everybody to their destinations on time.

If UK airspace regulation remains unchanged, there will be 3,100 days’ worth of flight delays by 2030 — 50 times as many as 2015 – as well as 8,000 flight cancellations a year, according to Department for Transport estimates.

The warnings from air traffic controllers about overcrowded skies coincides with the launch of the UK government’s consultation on its long-term aviation strategy.

The public are invited to submit their views on a wide range of proposals from doorstep luggage collection services to town centre check-in desks.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said:

The purpose of this exercise is to take a longer term view on how we can maintain and strengthen our links to our European partners and the rest of the world. It will support jobs and economic growth across the whole of the UK. Our vision puts the passenger at the heart of what we do, but also recognises the need to address the impacts of aviation on communities and the environment.