Air New Zealand suffered every airline’s second worst nightmareÂ - after in-flight aircraft failure – when its computer systems went down for six hours last weekend, causing inevitable chaos and disruption, mostly at Auckland Airport.
Rob Fyfe, chief executive of Air New Zealand, launched a scathing attack on IT supplier IBM for the power outage, saying in an email which unsuprisingly found its way onto the web that “we were left high and dry and this is simply unacceptable”.
The collapse of the airline’s check-in and boarding systems led to 10,000 passengers being delayed for up to ten hours at a time as staff manually processed tickets and each flight’s manifest.
Booking systems were also affected for around four hours during the tech siege, representatives of the airline later explained.
IBM has taken its time to explain what happened, saying initially that a failed oil pressure sensor on a backup generator was the likely cause.
Since then IBM has released a few more details:
- The outage occurred at its Newton (Auckland) data centre.
- A team of “32 local IT professionals”, supported by global colleagues and management, were drafted in to restore the systems.
- Services to other clients (unnamed) affected by the outage were restored within an hour.
But Air New Zealand looks like it’ll have to wait a bit longer to discover why it was without power for six hours. IBM tell us:
“We have already engaged an independent expert to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the outage.”
The saga has highlighted the issues large organisations face with 1) outsourcing business critical technology systems and 2) what to do when an event of this magnitude takes place.