Half of European flights face delays after computer failure

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BRUSSELS - AFP: European air travellers faced mass disruption on Tuesday with up to half of all flights delayed after the system that manages air traffic for the continent broke down.
Nearly 15,000 flights could be held up by the problem, according to Euro­con­trol, the Brussels-based agency in charge of managing Europe’s skies.
Several of the EU’s biggest airports, including Ams­terdam’s Schiphol, warned of problems and advised passengers to check on their flights because of the computer breakdown.
“Today 29,500 flights were expected in the Euro­pean network. Approxi­mately half of those could have some delay as a result of the system outage,” a Eurocontrol statement said.
“We very much regret the inconvenience caused to passengers across Europe today, however safety is our number 1 priority at all times. We are working hard to ensure the network returns to normal operations over the coming hours,” it later tweeted.
Eurocontrol — which covers 41 countries including all 28 EU nations plus others in Europe including Ukraine, Turkey and Norway — said it hoped to have the system back up and running by late on Tuesday.
It blamed a “failure of the Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System”, which tracks and manages traffic demand across the continent, and said it had activated contingency plans which reduced European flight capacity by 10 per cent. The cause had been identified, it said, without saying what it was.
Eurocontrol added that flight plans from before 1026 GMT were “lost” and asked airlines to refile them.
“We have never had anything like this before,” a Eurocontrol spokesman said.
The breakdown comes a day after the Easter holidays when many travellers are on the move around Europe, and as commuters across France faced disruption from a massive rail strike in protest at President Emma­nuel Macron’s reforms.
Several airports across the continent warned of problems, with Amsterdam’s Schiphol saying that the “system failure” at Eurocontrol could have “possible consequences” for departures.

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