Flights in Europe May Be Delayed Over Air Traffic System Failure - Operator

Eurocontrol manages air traffic control in the European Union

Eurocontrol coordinates airspace over all 41-member states and expected to process as many as 29,500 flights today.

They added that the root of the problem "has been identified and action is underway to return to normal operations" by the late evening.

Heathrow and Gatwick Airports have been given permission to allow 10 extra flights each to fly in after 11.30pm and before 6am for 10 days to ensure there are no spikes in air traffic so controllers can adjust to the new system.

"We have never had anything like this before", a Eurocontrol spokesman told the AFP news agency.

Dublin Airport Authority is advising passengers to check the latest flight information with their airlines.

Airports, including Schiphol, Brussels and Helsinki, also warned travellers that delays could occur. The Belgian airport manages 650 flights a day, according to its website.

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Eurocontrol said contingency measures would reduce the capacity of the European network by approximately 10 per cent.

There has been a failure of the Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System at Eurocontrol which also had an impact on the associated flight plan system.

Average delays at Heathrow could be 20 minutes as arrivals are limited to 80% of maximum capacity for 10 days from Wednesday.

Aircraft operators are recommended to review flight plans for flights that have not yet been performed.

Hutchison says the shift to the electronic system provides the building blocks necessary to modernise an airspace structure largely untouched since the Fifties and increasingly under strain as more and more flights take to the skies.

It is part of a £700 million programme to cope with growing demand for air travel.

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