Navitaire outage strands Virgin Blue passengers

System crash drags on across the country

Virgin Blue has blamed Accenture subsidiary, Navitaire, for a disastrous hardware failure that took down its reservations systems and resulted in lengthy queues at Australian airports as the airline was forced to check in passengers manually.

A year ago in June 2009 the pair trumpeted their new relationship in a press release which outlined how Virgin Blue would adopt Navitaire’s New Skies platform to provide distribution, reservation, travel commerce and departure control systems.

“Navitaire, the external supplier of our IT reservations and check-in systems had a hardware failure and we were forced to switch to a manual system, which created the delays,” Virgin Blue said in a company statement.

Thousands of Virgin Blue passengers were stranded around the nation after Navitaire’s system crashed just after 8am (AEST).

The airline’s group executive of corporate communications, Danielle Keighery, apologised to passengers and said Virgin Blue would be providing overnight accommodation and complimentary airport transfers to those passengers who hadn’t made it home.

In addition, passengers who had experienced a delay in excess of four hours would have their travel both reimbursed through another Virgin Blue flight on another day and time.

More than 100 flights from locations around Australia were cancelled.

Virgin Blue rival, Jetstar, is also reportedly using the New Skies platform. However, there were no problems reported with the Qantas subsidiary.

When Virgin Blue announced its intention to move to New Skies throughout the second half of 2009, the airline’s then-chief executive, Brett Godfrey, touted the features of the platform as being able to support Virgin Blue’s long-term growth.

“New Skies has the features, the built-in ancillary revenue capabilities, the broad airline alliance and [global distribution system] capabilities and the flexible architecture to give our evolving carrier a competitive advantage now and in the future,” he said.

An Australian spokesperson for the technology supplier’s parent, Accenture, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the issue.