Half of all the flights in Europe face delays after a computer failure to the system that regulates flight plans.
A total of 29,500 flights were expected today with almost half of them being slowed by the outage in the Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System at the Eurocontrol centre in Brussels.
A Eurocontrol spokesman said it was highly likely flights to and from Britain had been hit by the tech failure, but there was no way of finding out for certain while the system was down.
The fault, which risked disrupting the travel plans of up to half a million passengers, has now been identified. Eurocontrol, which coordinates air traffic across 41 countries, said it expected the system to be back up and running this evening.
Eurocontrol said that the breakdown hit the system for flight management but did not hit traffic control or security.
Flight plans submitted before 11.26am BST were wiped because of the failure. Operators have been asked to refile the plans for all planes that have not yet taken off.
Eurocontrol, which is not a European Union agency, is running its emergency system until the data is received.
Departure slots at airports are likely to be rationed, which could led to delays. Busy airports, such as Heathrow, are particularly vulnerable to such disruption.
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