Australian airline grounded by IT failure

Up to 50,000 air passengers were unable to board flights in Australia this weekend after the Virgin Blue airline suffered a technical glitch with its booking system.

The airline blamed IT services company Navitaire, a subsidiary of Accenture, for the fault, which caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled. “Navitaire … had a hardware failure and we were forced to switch to a manual system, which created the delays,” said Virgin Blue in a statement.

Virgin Blue chief executive Andrew David later claimed that Navitaire had failed to resolve the fault as quickly are they are contracted to do. “"The service agreement Virgin Blue has with Navitaire requires any mission critical system outages to be remedied within a short period of time,” he said, according to Australian Associated Press. “This did not happen in this instance."

All systems were back online this morning, but the airline said that delays will continue as it works through its backlog of flights. Virgin offered to pay for the accommodation of stranded passengers.

The airline upgraded to Navitaire’s New Skies system last year. When budget airline Ryanair deployed New Skies last year, it warned customers to expect delays following some “small bedding down issues” with the system.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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