Lufthansa flights grounded by major IT snafu, 'construction work' blamed
Resilience, we've heard of it
German airliner Lufthansa Group is working to restore services after an unspecified IT glitch – which it says was caused by a sliced broadband cable – forced it to delay or cancel flights.
The company confirmed to The Register: "Fiber-optic cables belonging to a telecommunications service provider were damaged during construction work in Frankfurt, causing an outage of Lufthansa's IT systems at the airport in Frankfurt. Flight operations are expected to stabilize in the early evening.
Deutsche Telekom has confirmed to us that it's cables were also cut.
"Late yesterday afternoon, a drill cut four fiber optic cables from Deutsche Telekom during third-party construction work on a rail line in Frankfurt. As a result, Lufthansa is also experiencing IT problems.
"Two cables have already been repaired overnight by our technical team and many customers are already back online. We are continuing to work at high pressure on the repairs. The situation is improving continuously.
"To ensure that customers can still be reached, they can request free call forwarding to their mobile devices from our customer service," the spokesperson told The Reg.
Lufthansa first admitted to issues on Twitter at 1055 UTC: "Since this morning, the airlines of Lufthansa Group have been affected by an IT failure caused by construction work in the Frankfurt region. Unfortunately, this has led to flight delays and cancellations."
It subsequently added: "We are working flat out on a solution. Until then, we ask all affected guests flying on LH domestic flights within Germany to book a train ticket and apply for a refund on http://lh.com."
It asked affected passengers to check the status of their flight on the company's app or website before going to the airport and told passengers with domestic flights they could "switch" their journey to a significantly longer one aboard national train operator Deutsche Bahn "until Sunday."
Lufthansa's global flight operations center is based in the outskirts of Frankfurt airport and it is here that disruption to the cables happened.
There's no insight into whether Lufthansa's presumed backup for that connection also failed, as was the case with Aer Lingus in October last year. Aer Lingus execs claimed at the time that data was mirrored to two separate sites by their IT services provider, and that the lines had been replicated into both.
If indeed Frankfurt construction work alone is to blame for its troubles, then Lufthansa may want to reconsider resiliency of its systems, as one person on Twitter mentioned.
German engineering at its best! A single fiber cut causes a global outage! Where is the redundancy?— Mark (@FunkyBunch3112) February 15, 2023
Ground systems that include check-in services were hit by the IT issue, and local air traffic control are sending planes off to other German airports including Nuremberg, Cologne and Dusseldorf.
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There are reports that the IT issues are forcing Lufthansa to resort to pen and paper when boarding planes and that it is unable to process passengers' luggage digitally. And pictures are emerging on social media of the queues customers are forced to join.
Line to rebook or get an update from on the ground staff at Frankfurt Airport is ridiculous. Can I just get my bag from a cancelled flight @lufthansa ?!?!?!?!? pic.twitter.com/eUTl4cBtND— Krissie Vitasa (@kriseldav) February 15, 2023