Delays and cancellations because of the technical fault at Palma's control centre. | Miquel A. Cañellas


For four hours this afternoon, Palma airport was only able to operate minimum services because of a fault in the airport control centre. The fault occurred at 13.15 and was not repaired until 17.15 during which time nine flights were cancelled and scores of other flights were delayed. The fault meant that, at first, the airport could only operate at 40 per cent capacity, with just six flights being allowed to take off and land per hour for the four hours the system was down.

And all this on the busiest exit day of the Easter holidays for Balearic airports which were all affected by the fault.

By 17.30, the airport was operating at 76 per cent capacity with 25 flights landing per hour and departures taking of as usual, although many had been delayed.

During the shutdown, the airport was allowing flights already in the air to land. Meanwhile, those which were still on the ground awaiting clearance for departure to airports across Europe were ordered to stay put until further notice for safety reasons.

Of flights cancelled were services to Barcelona, Oslo, Ibiza, Minorca and Santiago de Compostela.

The airport was due to have handled 580 takeoffs and landings during the day. By 15.30, 229 had been handled.

In Ibiza, 141 flights were scheduled and just under half had landed or taken off by 15.30. Minorca was due to handle a total of 66. Half way through the shut down, it had handled 22.

Enaire, the company which manages airport and air traffic control for the Spanish airports authority Aena, said that is was extremely sorry for the chaos caused, especially as it came on the eve of the Easter holidays.

Passengers who have flights booked for Thursday are advised to check with their airlines because the shutdown may have had a knock-on effect on some flights scheduled for tomorrow.

As thousands of people waited, the airports services and facilities were under major pressure but the terminal managed to contain the problem.