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Fri, Jun 22, 2007

United Airlines Blames Computer Snafu On Employee Error

Close To 300 Domestic Flights Affected

United Airlines states human error was behind a computer outage that brought operations to a halt at the carrier for two hours Wednesday, grounding approximately 300 flights and causing ripple effects that continued into Thursday.

Airline officials told The Associated Press operations had more-or-less returned to normal, with a handful of delays Thursday morning. Calling Wednesday "a difficult day for our customers and you," United CEO Glenn Tilton made a point of praising employees' handling of the tense situation.

"You did excellent work in overcoming a tough problem and doing your very best for our customers throughout the day," Tilton added, in a message to United workers... many of whom have openly criticized Tilton and other United executives, for accepting lucrative bonuses in the wake of the airline's time in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

As Aero-News reported, all domestic flights were grounded by the glitch from 0800 until 1000 CDT Wednesday morning. United's international flights were not affected, according to spokeswoman Robin Urbanski.

UAL Chief Operating Officer Pete McDonald said the problem was caused by failure of the carrier's Unimatic system, which handles flight dispatching operations, during a systems test. A backup system failed, too.

"Yesterday, an employee made a mistake and caused the failure of both Unimatic and our backup system," McDonald said. He did not elaborate on what the error was.

FMI: www.united.com

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