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Originally published Monday, October 8, 2012 at 12:42 PM

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2 Sprint fiber optic cuts grounded Alaska Airlines

The computer problem that has cut off Alaska Airlines' ability to put passengers on planes was caused by a combination of two fiber optic cuts in the Sprint system.

Associated Press

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SEATTLE —

The computer problem that has cut off Alaska Airlines' ability to put passengers on planes was caused by a combination of two fiber optic cuts in the Sprint system.

Sprint spokeswoman Crystal Davis in Reston, Va., says one occurred at a construction site along railroad tracks between Chicago and Milwaukie, and the other was somewhere between Portland and Seattle.

If there had been only one disruption, the computer system would've been able to reroute the traffic. She says the failure Monday was caused by the combination of the two cuts. It also affected some other Sprint customers in parts of Washington, Oregon and California.

Davis hopes one fiber optic line will be fixed by 3 p.m. Pacific, which should put Alaska Airlines back in business.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

There's been no quick solution to a computer failure that cut off Alaska Airlines' ability to put passengers on planes, creating long lines at many West Coast airports.

The failure has caused delays at the Seattle-based airline's entire network of 64 destinations, which also includes airports in Alaska, Mexico and Canada. Alaska Airlines has an average of 436 flights a day.

Airline spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey says technicians are trying to restore the reservation network that was lost at 7:40 a.m. Monday.

The airline says the problem was caused when a Sprint fiber optic network in the Midwest was cut and Alaska Airlines lost its connection to the Sabre ticketing system.

The airline had hoped for a partial solution by noon Pacific time, but there was no indication a fix was imminent.

The computers Alaska Airlines uses to check in passengers stopped working at 7:40 a.m. Monday, causing long lines of frustrated passengers who were unable to board flights that were delayed.

Technicians worked to fix the problem, but the company could not say how long it would last. Alaska Airlines President and CEO Brad Tilden said there might be a partial solution by noon Pacific time and a full resolution by 5 p.m.

"We're doing everything we can to get back on track," Tilden said at Sea-Tac Airport during an unrelated announcement with Delta Air Lines about a new route.

The problem was system wide for the airline, a major West Coast carrier.

It could only apologize and ask for patience, said spokeswoman Bobbie Egan. An announcement in the Sea-Tac terminal said the airline would check passengers manually. Another announcement said passengers could re-book at no charge.

On its website, Alaska said if passengers missed flights they'd try to get them on the next available one and would also try to book people on other airlines if that was necessary.

The Seattle-based Alaska Airlines is the seventh-largest U.S. airline based on passenger traffic and is the dominant U.S. West Coast air carrier. It has an average of 436 flights a day at 64 destinations.

Alaska and its sister carrier, Horizon Air, are owned by Alaska Air Group.

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