By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Takeoffs at several southern California airports, including Los Angeles International Airport, were halted for up to two hours on Wednesday after computer problems led a federal air traffic control facility to issue a "ground stop," officials said.
Flights at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) were held and others bound for the airport were diverted to other destinations and expected to depart for LAX within hours, airport spokeswoman Nancy Suey Castles said in an email.
There were, in all, roughly 6,800 passengers on the 50 arriving and departing flights that were canceled at LAX, Castles said. Twenty-seven flights were diverted to other airports and thousands of passengers suffered delays.
The ground stop at LAX, which last year served nearly 67 million passengers, began at about 2 p.m. (3 p.m. EDT), said airport spokeswoman Amanda Parsons. By 4 p.m., LAX announced it had been lifted.
The Federal Aviation Administration put in place a similar stop on takeoffs at John Wayne Airport in Orange County and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, but those stops were later lifted, according to statements on the airports' Twitter pages.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the agency's Los Angeles Center air traffic control facility experienced "technical issues" and temporarily stopped accepting additional flights into the airspace it manages.
"Some flights were diverted and the agency issued a nationwide ground stop for flights heading into the airspace managed by the center," Gregor said in a statement. He could not be reached for further comment.
Bob Hope Airport said in a Twitter post that the ground stop had been issued due to computer problems with the FAA's system, and Parsons also said she believed the halt on takeoffs was related to a computer problem.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis, Gregory Roumeliotis, and Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Ken Wills and Ron Popeski)