Flights across Europe delayed following air traffic control system problems

Among the airports affected were Amsterdam's Schipol, Brussels and Helsinki

About half of flights in Europe have been delayed because of a failure of the Eurocontrol system that manages air traffic for 41 countries.

The issue has been identified and work is underway to return to normal operations, but flight plans from earlier on in the day were lost and Eurocontrol said aircraft operators have been asked to refile the flight plans for all aircraft that have not yet departed.

In what a spokesperson for the company described as ' a very rare event", Eurocontrol said that its flow management system was suffering problems leading officials to roll out a solution with services expected to resume "by late this evening'.

The system is used to compare traffic demand with the available capacity of air traffic control sectors.

The system helps regulate the flow of flights across Europe.

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

Airports, including Schiphol, Brussels and Helsinki, also warned travellers that delays could occur.

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

The UK's two busiest airports will also be hit with flight delays over the next three weeks as air traffic controllers introduce new technology.

The new system, EXCDS, will be brought in at the London Terminal Control Centre.

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

"We will be doing everything we can, in partnership with the airports and airlines, to minimise the impact on passengers".

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