Air traffic control computer network failure leaves more than half of European flights stranded

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Around half of all flights in Europe faced delays on Tuesday (Apr 3) after a technical problem at Eurocontrol, which runs the EU’s air traffic control system, the agency said.

“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.

The failure of the ETFMS system comes on a day when travellers in France have been hit by strikes by rail workers and Air France employees.

European network manager Eurocontrol put in contingency measures as a result, but the computer systems failure meant flight plans filed by airlines before 1026 GMT were lost and has led to restrictions on the number of departures at airports across Europe.

“Air Traffic Control has not been directly affected and there are no safety implications arising from this incident,”Eurocontrol said in a statement.

“We have never had anything like this before,” a Eurocontrol spokesman told AFP.

It later said the issue had been identified but it would take until late on Tuesday evening to recover the system.

Airports, including Schiphol, Brussels and Helsinki, also warned travellers that delays could occur. Brussels airport said departures were limited to 10 flights an hour. The Belgian airport manages 650 flights a day, according to its website.

Several airports across the continent warned of problems, with Schiphol saying that the “system failure” at Eurocontrol could have “possible consequences” for departures.

Helsinki airport also said its traffic was facing delays.