A major IT outage has stranded tens of thousands of Lufthansa passengers around the world after clumsy construction workers accidentally excavated through fibre optic cables close to the German flag carrier’s headquarters at Frankfurt Airport.
The damaged cables immediately took down key Lufthansa IT systems that not only grounded Lufthansa but also all of the airline’s wider group carriers which include Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, Eurowings Discover, and SWISS Airlines.
The systems were taken offline earlier on Wednesday when a crew of excavators working on a rail line close to Frankfurt Airport ripped up lines of fibre optic cables. Engineers believe they might be able to restore the lines at some point during Wednesday afternoon.
In a brief statement, Lufthansa suggested that despite the mass number of cancellations across its network that it might be possible to “stabilize” flight operations by “early evening”.
Eyewitnesses claim the airline initially attempted to board planes using pen and paper before mass cancellations started to be auctioned. So far, the airline has only cancelled 123 flights, according to data provided by Flight Aware, although this number is expected to rise significantly over the next few hours.
For a brief time, Frankfurt Airport was forced to close to all airlines over fears that the terminals would be overwhelmed, although the airfield has since reopened. The airport operator is warning passengers travelling with other airlines to leave extra time for check-in and to check the status of their flight before setting off for the airport.
In a statement, Lufthansa said passengers with domestic flights could switch to Deutsche Bahn until Sunday using their flight ticket.
“Due to the system failure, rebooking on other flights is currently limited,” the airline warned passengers on Wednesday morning. Flight operations at Munich Airport have also been partially affected but disruption isn’t as bad as in Frankfurt, the airline said.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.