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Airline cancels flights after cable cut

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-02-17 09:32
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Passengers wait after an IT fault at Germany's Lufthansa causes massive flight delays and disruptions in Frankfurt, Germany, February 15, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

The German airline Lufthansa has apologized after it had to cancel more than 200 flights at Frankfurt Airport this week because of lost internet access.

The outage led to check-in and boarding problems in addition to the canceled flights.

The cancelations on Tuesday and Wednesday began when an engineering team accidently severed a bundle of cables next to a railway line on Tuesday, the airline said. Thousands of passengers were left stranded because of the accident, with flights to and from Frankfurt canceled at airports around the world.

The problem was resolved late on Wednesday and normal service was resumed on Thursday both at the airport, which is Germany's busiest by passenger volume, and at other locations in the Frankfurt area.

Internet provider Deutsche Telekom said Thursday: "Two cables have already been repaired overnight by our technical team and many customers are already back online."

The German news agency Deutsche Welle said the internet outage triggered a company-wide system fault at Lufthansa but that the company's flights were not impacted at airports other than Frankfurt.

DW said air traffic controllers rerouted flights bound for Frankfurt Airport to other destinations in Germany on Wednesday, including to Cologne, Dusseldorf, and Nuremberg. The agency said some flights were able to leave Frankfurt Airport during the disruption.

By Wednesday afternoon, Frankfurt Airport operator Fraport said flights would soon resume and Lufthansa had announced its IT systems were rebooting and that "there are departures from Frankfurt again", DW reported.

Reuters said Lufthansa's shares were trading 1.2 percent down after the incident.

Germany's rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, which was carrying out the work that caused the internet outage apologized for the inconvenience caused. The Reuters news agency said on Thursday the issue may have led to the disruption of websites at three German airports on Thursday.

Reuters said airports including Dortmund, Dusseldorf, and Nuremberg had website problems on Thursday but it said the websites for airports at Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich were operating normally.

Wednesday's canceled flights and Thursday's website problems came as the union Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft, or Verdi, said it would ground flights at seven of Germany's airports on Friday during a warning strike in pursuit of an improved pay rise.

Verdi said Frankfurt Airport, which handled more than 48 million passengers in 2022, would be impacted by the 24-hour industrial action, alongside airports in Bremen, Dortmund, Hamburg, Hanover, Munich, and Stuttgart. Friday's strike was set to follow one in January that was also organized by the union, which led to around 300 flights being grounded at Berlin's airport.

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