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Europe Air Travelers Face Evening Delays After Computer Failure

European travelers will face flight delays until 11 p.m. Central European Time after a computer failure at a traffic control center in the Netherlands prompted a reduction in flights, Eurocontrol said.

The failure, which occurred at 3 p.m. local time and was fixed by 4:20 p.m., forced air traffic controllers to have planes fly with a larger buffer zone between them, creating a backlog of flights waiting to take off, Fred Konnemann, a spokesman for Eurocontrol, which handles the region’s flights, said by phone from Maastricht, Netherlands.

About 250 out of 4,500 flights handled by the agency’s Maastricht office were affected after one of two flight-plan processing computers failed, he said.

“We’ve got two computers to process flight plans,” Konnemann said. “If one fails it’s like a plane flying on only one engine -- it works but you’re going to take safety measures.”

Eurocontrol assigns slot times to flights based on current traffic in the region with less than two hours advance notice. An ash cloud emanating from a volcano in Iceland starting on April 14 grounded thousands of flights across Europe.

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