FAA halts all U.S. departures to fix system outage

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Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

Thousands of U.S. flights were delayed Wednesday morning after the Federal Aviation Administration suffered an outage of the system that sends messages to pilots.

The FAA said on its website that domestic departures would be paused until 9:30 a.m. ET. The agency said it was working to restore the Notice to Air Missions System. All flights currently in the air were safe to land, the agency said.

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The White House said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg had briefed President Joe Biden on the outage. “There is no evidence of a cyberattack at this point, but the President directed DOT to conduct a full investigation into the causes,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a tweet.

More than 3,500 U.S. flights were delayed on Wednesday as of just before 8 a.m. ET, according to FlightAware.

“This technology issue is causing significant operational delays across the National Airspace System,” said Airlines for America, an industry group that represents major U.S. carriers, including Delta, American, United, Southwest and others.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas said in a tweet that arriving and departing passengers should expect delays throughout the day.

The incident comes just weeks after bad weather during the busy holiday travel period prompted mass flight disruptions across the U.S. and days later, more than 15,000 Southwest Airlines flight cancellations after the carrier buckled from all the schedule changes.

Southwest is preparing to cancel flights on Wednesday to avoid further disruption, Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, told CNBC.

Shares of Southwest were about 1.5% lower in premarket trading Wednesday. Shares of other major airlines were little changed.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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