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Vienna Airport grounds flights due to technical problems

[VIENNA] Vienna Airport said on Sunday it had cancelled or delayed 113 flights to or from Vienna because of problems with automated flight data transmission, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded. "Due to technical issues in transferring relevant data between the European air traffic control agency and Austrian air traffic control, flights are delayed or cancelled," a spokeswoman for the airport said.

The automated transfer of flight planning data between air traffic control centres in Brussels and Vienna collapsed completely for a while on Sunday afternoon and was only partially working in the evening, a spokesman for Austro Control, which monitors Austrian air space, said.

No other airport was affected, he said. "We are about to identify what caused the problem," the spokesman said.

Asked whether the fault could have been caused by computer hacking, he said:"There are no indications for a hacker attack."

Extra staff had been asked to come to work to enter data into the system manually to help make up for the outage, he said.

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Flights from cities such as Venice, Prague and Cologne were delayed on Sunday night as well as departures to destinations such as Tunis, London and Zurich, according to the Vienna Airport website.

Airlines affected included Lufthansa, British Airways, Polish airline LOT, Finnair and Turkish Airlines, according to the online departure and arrival time tables.

A total of 63 flights had been cancelled and 50 delayed since late afternoon, the Vienna Airport spokeswoman said.

"We hope we will get back to normal operation tomorrow morning," she said. Vienna Airport will provide 500 camp beds and - together with Austrian Airlines - free food and drinks for stranded passengers, she said.

Around 1930 GMT many people had left the airport and the initial chaos had calmed down, she said, adding that around 200 people were still at the check-in area.

Austrian Airlines, which had to cancel dozens of flights, said depending on how quickly the problem was resolved, the airline would try to get as many flights to Vienna as possible.

"For sure we will not be able to bring all flights to Vienna which have been scheduled for today," a spokesman said. "We are focussing on long-distance flights and holiday flights."


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