Balearic airports were held to ransom yesterday after a computer problem struck Britain's new air traffic control for the third time in two months and a fault at Eurocontrol, which affected all European flights yesterday afternoon. Yesterday morning, flights to and from the UK and Palma and Ibiza airports were affected with delays of up to two hours and some flights were even cancelled. But just as there was a glimmer of hope for delayed passengers, Eurocontrol, which controls European airspace, reported a major problem with one of its information programmes at its main flight control centre, and last night there were concerns that the fault would not be repaired until the early hours of this morning, causing a back log of delayed flights. The Eurocontrol fault added to passenger misery in the UK and also affected flights to and from Italy and some Spanish airports, especially Palma. Yesterday evening the average delay on Palma flights was 24 minutes, although some passengers had been stranded for as long as four hours. At 7.25pm, there were 43 delayed flights, 19 in bound and 24 out bound. But UK flight delays were set to build up as the transfer weekend got under way last night with a large number of charter flights scheduled. The fault in the UK was repaired by 11am, four hours after it threw flights into chaos, but all morning air traffic was affected as the number of flights flying in and out of the UK had to be halved to maintain safety standards. At Heathrow, passengers were told to expect delays of up to three hours. Flag carrier British Airways cancelled 52 flights, mainly from Heathrow and Gatwick. Departures from London's Stansted airport were as much as four hours late and other UK airports felt knock-on delays. Both the new UK control centre and the Eurocontrol programme which failed yesterday, are key parts of the proposed single European airspace.
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