Southwest resumes takeoffs after computer glitch

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DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines grounded its entire fleet of airplanes preparing for late-night departures due to a system-wide computer problem, but a company spokesman said service was slowly resuming early Saturday.

Brad Hawkins told The Associated Press an estimated 250 flights were grounded at least temporarily due to the glitch, which impaired the airline's ability to do such things as conduct check-in, print boarding passes and monitor the weight of the aircraft.

Some flights were on the taxiway and diverted back to the terminal after the problem was detected around 11 p.m. ET Friday, he said. Flights already in the air were unaffected.

Hawkins said service resumed around 2 a.m. ET Saturday, but there were delays because the computer system was still running slowly. He said at least some cancellations were expected because the airline doesn't do redeye flights and was near "the end of our operational day."

Because of the late hour of the disruption, the computer problem affected far more flights on the West Coast, but Hawkins said at least a few on the East Coast were grounded as well. Southwest, based in Dallas, conducts, on average, 3,400 flights a day.

A spokesman for Los Angeles International Airport said of about 25 inbound and outbound flights remaining Friday, only five departing flights were experiencing delays, of 30 to 80 minutes. At LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT), a total of three flights — all departures — were affected.

Four Southwest flights were temporarily held in Seattle, said Christina Faine, a Seattle-Tacoma International Airport spokeswoman.

One flight to Oakland, Calif., had been due to leave at 9:20 p.m. and departed before 11 p.m. Faine said late Friday night that an airport duty manager, Anthony Barnes, told her the others were expected to depart shortly.

Steve Johnson, a spokesman for Portland, Ore., International Airport, said he was not aware of any planes held up there.

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