Thousands of Lufthansa passengers face flight cancellations or delays, because of an IT problem. But unusually, it’s not software-related.
IT problems in the airline industry have been in the news on several occasions lately. First Southwest’s problems, then the failure of the FAA’s own METAR system come to mind. Smaller but still disruptive issues have hit other airlines and aviation authorities around the world, stranding flights and passengers.
The latest IT problem affects not only Lufthansa itself but also other airlines in its group. This group includes Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Swiss, Edelweiss Air, Eurowings, and Air Dolomiti. However, we don’t know if ALL of these carriers face the same IT issues.
Lufthansa IT Problem – More Hardware Than Software-Related
According to some reports, the IT problem means that Lufthansa staff have reverted to pen and paper, for boarding passengers. But processing luggage manually is more difficult. The airline has acknowledged the problem on social media and is apologizing to its passengers. Fortunately, the problem is not affecting flights that are already in the air or flight safety in general.
Unlike other recent news on IT issues, the problem that Lufthansa is facing doesn’t appear to have anything to do with outdated software. Rather, it has to do with a network of fiber-optic cables in Frankfurt. This network belongs to Deutsche Telekom, Germany’s (and Europe’s) largest telecom provider.
It appears that construction work in Frankfurt caused damage to this cable network, crippling Lufthansa’s systems. So far, there is no suggestion from the airline or any authorities that the damage to the fiber-optic cables was intentional. In previous months, sabotaged cables have affected Germany’s rail network.
Lufthansa has stated that its IT problem should be fixed by Wednesday afternoon local time. So far, it has affected passengers in multiple airports in Germany and elsewhere. News of the problem is already affecting Lufthansa’s share price. Before this issue, Lufthansa and other carriers have been bracing for disruptions due to strikes in German airports. These are due from Friday.