THOUSANDS OF Air India passengers were stranded Saturday after nearly one-fourth of all flights operated by the airline — including its subsidiaries Air India Express and Alliance Air — were affected due a technical glitch early morning.
The glitch in Air India’s passenger service system, developed by aviation IT solutions firm SITA, brought down the check-in, reservation and baggage handling systems for over five hours.
An Air India spokesperson said that 155 flights on the group’s network of 674 flights were affected. Of these, 85 were delayed till 10 am as an immediate impact of the glitch that affected the system between 3.30 am and 8.50 am. This had a cascading effect on the carrier’s remaining flights for the day, due to which the other 70 were rescheduled.
According to Air India’s Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani, SITA’s systems were brought down for scheduled maintenance at 3.30 am but they failed to get back up at 4.30 am and only went live at 8.50 am. In June last year, too, Air India’s check-in software was affected due to unexpected network connectivity issues at SITA’s Atlanta data centre. While, the glitch impacted SITA’s customers across the board last year, Saturday’s incident only affected Air India.
“SITA experienced a complex system issue during server maintenance early this morning, which resulted in operational disruption to Air India flights. We have now fully restored services at all airports where Air India were affected. Our priority remains, as always, to ensure a stable system where customers can conduct business efficiently and effectively, and we are undertaking a full investigation to understand the root cause and prevent a recurrence. We deeply regret the inconvenience this has caused to the airline and their customers owing to this disruption,” SITA said in a statement.
Lohani said the airline was making efforts to help the thousands of Air India passengers stranded across the globe. He said they were offering them hotel accommodation, refreshments and putting them on other flights of their own or their partner airlines. He also said the airline had waived off rescheduling charges for Air India passengers flying on Saturday.
Air India is a member of Star Alliance and has codeshare agreements with a number of other airlines. Therefore, passengers booked on Air India flights through other airlines such as Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada, Thai, United, Turkish Airlines, etc also had their onward connections affected.
While several of Air India’s international flights, including those to Europe, remained largely unaffected and faced delays of only up to 30 minutes, the larger impact on the airline’s domestic network had a ripple effect on the carrier’s international services. Air India, like many other international carriers across the world, operates on a hub-and-spoke model, wherein it connects passengers from smaller stations across the country to bigger hubs such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru to fly them onwards to international destinations such as London, Paris, New York, Chicago, etc. Often, the international flights are delayed to accommodate passengers from delayed domestic flights from smaller airports.