In this paper, we investigate the effect of local disturbances on European airports over the global delay characteristics of the air traffic network. First, the existing traffic data is used for analyzing the busiest European airports and their connectivity to other airports in the network. Based on this analysis, an airport based queuing network model is constructed for simulating delay propagation across the network. The model is used for generating various scenarios where the capacities of airports were reduced under local disturbances (weather effects, air traffic controller strikes etc.). The consequences of these local capacity reductions on the total network delay (departure + arrival) is analyzed. In particular, it is observed that there are airport-specific critical capacity values and if an airport's capacity drops below this critical value, there can be a significant jump in the value of total delay in the network. Results also show that airports that are operating above these critical capacity values tend to have higher tolerance to disturbances, at the expense of using extra resources. (C) 2016, IFAC (International Federation of Automatic Control) Hosting by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.