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article imageUnited Airlines flights back in air after worldwide groundstop

By Caroline Leopold     Jul 8, 2015 in Business
Technical problems temporarily grounded United Airlines flights worldwide and halted trading at the New York Stock Exchange. The timing of the two incidents have fueled speculation that the events are related.
On Wednesday, technical troubles arrived in threes. United Airlines, the New York Stock Exchange and the Wall Street Journal all faced technical problems that resulted in major stoppages of normal business. While operations are running, the timing has fueled speculation that they may have been connected.
United Airlines issued a groundstop order and around 4,900 flights were affected worldwide for about two hours because of a problem in the computerized registration system.
"An issue with a router degraded network connectivity for various applications, causing this morning's operational disruption," United Airlines told CNBC News. "We fixed the router issue, which is enabling us to restore normal functions."
The New York Stock Exchange abruptly halted trading at 11:32 a.m. and resumed at 3:10 p.m. Explanations for the shutdown have not yet been disclosed except NYSE citing a "technical issue."
Only minutes after the NYSE was still, the Wall Street Journal's homepage showed a 504 timeout error, usually meaning that a server is down. One possible explanation was that the servers became overloaded with users bombarded WSJ to get news about the stock exchange.
President Barack Obama has been briefed about all of the instances of technical problems. White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told reporters there does not appear to be a malicious attack on U.S. businesses. He added that the President is “keenly aware of the risk that exists in cyber space right now.”
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said, “It appears from what we know at this stage that the malfunctions at United and at the stock exchange were not the result of any nefarious actor.” He added, “We know less about the Wall Street Journal at this point except that their system is back up again as is the United Airline system,” according to Fox News.
The worldwide impact of these incidents, while likely to be temporary, was staggering.
United's computer problems triggered the FAA to impose what is known as a ground stop at 8:26 a.m. ET, meaning United flights were not allowed to take off. The stop was lifted 15 minutes later for feeder airlines that fly under the name United, but it took until just before 9:47 a.m. for the ground stop to be lifted for United flights.
The delays are expected to continue through Wednesday. United is allowing passengers flying through July 10 to change flights without transfer fees and will not be required to pay added flight costs.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it will help passengers whose flights were disrupted at New York City's three major airports.
As for the NYSE, trading has resumed, but the technical problem has raised fears that more catastrophes will come. Investor Doug Kass, told the New York Times that these problems are a reminder that “in a paperless (and ‘cloudy’) world, investors and citizens are not likely as safe as the markets assume.”
The NYSE has had technical difficulties in the past, but rarely at the scale of Wednesday's problem.
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