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United Investigates Network Failure Delaying 580 Flights

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- United Continental Holdings Inc. is working with its equipment suppliers to determine why backup systems didn’t prevent a computer-network malfunction that delayed 580 flights at the world’s largest airline.

Flights are running normally today following yesterday’s failure, which prevented automated check-ins at airports and on the airline’s website for about two hours, said Mary Ryan, a spokeswoman. The glitch added to computer malfunctions in recent months as the Chicago-based airline transitioned to new passenger-service and aircraft preventive-maintenance systems.

“A piece of communication equipment in one of our data centers failed and disabled communications with our airports and website,” Ryan said in an e-mailed statement. “We have fully redundant systems and we are working with the manufacturers to determine why the backup equipment did not work as it was supposed to.”

The carrier already has added extra checks after a computer breakdown allowed a plane to take off weighing more than pilots were led to believe.

The passenger-service and maintenance systems both were used at Continental Airlines Inc. before that carrier merged with former United parent UAL Corp. in 2010.

United reported technical issues in March after the Apollo reservations system from the old United was switched over to Continental’s Shares program.

The company struggled through at least three days of higher call volumes after the meshing of the systems and websites caused problems with some check-in kiosks and frequent-flier mileage balances.

To contact the reporters on this story: Tori Stilwell in New York at vstilwell1@bloomberg.net; Mary Schlangenstein in Dallas at maryc.s@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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