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Computer glitch, storms delay flights in 11 cities, including Pittsburgh

| Saturday, June 9, 2007

U.S. air traffic slowed Friday at 11 major airports because of a computer malfunction and thunderstorms -- adding to the year's record airline delays, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The affected airports included Atlanta, Cleveland, Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth, LaGuardia and Kennedy in New York and Newark and Teterboro in New Jersey, the FAA said on its Web site.

"There are 50 airplanes on the ground at this moment" at LaGuardia, Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said yesterday afternoon, noting that his information was based on talking with controllers. "It's probably the worst day at LaGuardia this year."

"We had no flight delays at Pittsburgh International -- in fact, we had none systemwide," said US Airways spokesman Morgan Durrant.

Delta Air Lines spokesman Anthony Black said the airline had no delays in Pittsburgh.

Southwest Airlines' spokesman Whitney Eichinger, though, said the airline experienced delays of between 1.5 to two hours from Pittsburgh into Philadelphia.

Failures in FAA flight-plan computers at 6:57 a.m. yesterday in Atlanta and later in Salt Lake City forced the agency to process flight plans manually -- causing delays in the traffic system, spokesman Paul Takemoto said.

"The problem has since been resolved, but there are residual delays in LaGuardia and Philadelphia that are compounded by bad weather," Takemoto said.

Flight delays in other cities, including Chicago and Detroit, were attributed to bad weather, not equipment failure, Takemoto said.

Through April, U.S. airlines have managed only 72.5 percent of flights on time this year -- the worst rate since the federal government began keeping track in the current format in 1995.

Flight delays could extend into the summer travel season because of high traffic volumes and storms, said the FAA and analysts.

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