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Lufthansa system failure causes massive travel chaos

February 15, 2023

The German airline said a company-wide system fault was disrupting systems for check-in and boarding, leading to passengers and aircraft staff being stranded at Frankfurt Airport. Normal operations are now resuming.

A flight passenger stands before the departures board at Terminal 1 in Frankfurt Airport
Hundreds of flights at Frankfurt Airport were cancelled amid the IT glitchImage: Arne Dedert/dpa/picture alliance

A Lufthansa spokesperson reported on Wednesday a company-wide system issue, with massive delays and disruptions in flights at Frankfurt Airport resulting from the failure.

Lufthansa said construction work on a rail line in Frankfurt was to blame for the massive IT failure. Currently, the breakdown is presumed to have been caused by a cable getting slit during rail construction work on the Frankfurt S-Bahn.

Germany's rail operator Deutsche Bahn stated it immediately informed Telekom about the damage and apologized to affected travelers for the inconvenience caused.

Lufthansa cited a statement by Telekom saying that the complete fixing of the cable disruptions would likely take until later on Wednesday.

Passengers stand in line at Lufthansa check-in counters amid IT chaos at Frankfurt Airport
The system failure disrupted travel planes, leaving international passengers stranded in FrankfurtImage: Arne Dedert/dpa/picture alliance

IT meltdown triggers Frankfurt Airport mayhem

By Wednesday afternoon, Frankfurt Airport operator Fraport said flights were allowed to land after a day of chaos. Lufthansa said IT systems were rebooting and that "there are departures from Frankfurt again."

All of Lufthansa's departures from Frankfurt Airport were stopped earlier, as systems for check-in and boarding were interrupted. Hundreds of flights were cancelled. 

German air traffic control was temporarily re-routing all aircrafts landing in Frankfurt Airport to other destinations such as Cologne, Düsseldorf and Nuremberg because of the breakdown. The measure was intended to prevent the hub from filling up, an air traffic control spokesperson confirmed. 

Take-offs, on the other hand, were still possible in Frankfurt. Lufthansa's second-biggest hub, Munich, was not restricted by air traffic control at this point in time. If problems persisted, this could become an option, a spokesperson of air traffic control said. 

International flights were also affected by the failure, leading to many passengers potentially missing their connecting flights.

Lufthansa struggles to man its flights

Other German airports seemingly unaffected

Passengers and aircraft staff alike were stranded at Frankfurt Airport. A spokesperson in Frankfurt said that the company was intensively working on a solution. Other airports in Germany seemed to be less affected. 

Reuters reported that Lufthansa's shares were down by 1.2% following the system fault.

los/fb (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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