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The Sad Case of Airline Systems

If you’ve been following the news in recent times, you would be well aware about the increasing count of technology errors bringing down the American airline industry.

Seventeen dramatic incidents were reported in the previous year besides sixteen others in 2015. The average number of such errors was limited to about 6 a year between 2011 and 2014, reported Robert Charette, a reputed risk management consultant who has actively tracked IT showdowns for numerous years.

Almost all incidents that involve computer systems and other technology have let down multiple airlines as well as flight booking services. Also, there hasn’t been any improvement in the situation. Up until now, 2017 has witnessed seven airline incidents and these include huge outages at Delta and United airlines in January. In both instances, all the flights operated by the airline were halted for over 2 hours. Charette informs that while there was one odd outage in a month for a long time, this has now increased to 2 or even 3 a month.

Are the Airlines Responsible?

While it is true that an airline cannot take responsibility for bad weather, it is definitely accountable for failed computer systems.

In the last few years, there have been consistent system breakdowns, reported by various American airlines that have caused several thousand flights to be delayed or Cancelled. Airlines such as Delta, United and Southwest have been at the receiving end of a lot of criticism, as reported by the media.

Delta Airlines ended up cancelling nearly 280 flights in February 2017 owing to a failure of its core IT systems.

Flights going to or coming back from major cities like Detroit and New York at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport were nearly 4 hours late and there were flight cancellations as well.

According to airlines, IT problems are responsible for only about 1% of the delays. This means that most delays and cancellations can still be attributed to air traffic and weather issues. However, technological glitches do come at a very heavy cost to airlines-nearly $100 million for each major accident.

Apps Add to the IT Problems of Airlines

While computer systems alone have managed to create enough trouble for air travelers, airlines have managed to make matters worse by adding tablet and smartphone apps to their operations. These are used by both customers and the flight crews besides some redundant computer systems to handle all kinds of essentials jobs like scheduling flights and selling tickets.

Further, there were several different mergers that took place recently and called for the integration of multiple outdated computer systems. The budgets allocated to technology spending were also affected by the recession.

Delta Airlines recently reported an investment of $450 million in technology this year. This is a massive hike from its earlier $150 million spending in 2016. Following the footsteps of Delta Airlines, Alaska Airlines has also quadrupled its technology expenditure, reported CEO Brad Tilden.

Here’s a simple warning: if an airline says that it is undergoing a technology upgrade, try and avoid that carrier for at least a couple of weeks.

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