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Air Canada latest airline to suffer disruptions from computer glitch

An Air Canada flight makes its final approach as it lands at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Sept. 30, 2004. Air Canada says a computer issue is causing problems at airports and resulting in some flight delays.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
January 17, 2017 - 8:00 PM

MONTREAL - Air Canada saw its operations disrupted by a computer glitch Tuesday that resulted in delayed flights and cancellations.

The Montreal-based airline (TSX:AC) said the IT system hardware problem was resolved by the afternoon, but not before it caused problems at airports and online.

"We are now working to get our customers on their way quickly," airline spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur wrote in an email.

"We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate our customers' patience."

Several Air Canada flights departing from its hub at Toronto's Pearson International Airport and Montreal's Trudeau International Airport were cancelled.

On its website, the airline said some of the flights were affected by adverse weather including freezing rain. However, it also acknowledged that "a small handful" of flights were cancelled because of the outage.

Arthur said some flights were delayed as passengers were manually checked in. The airline also added larger aircraft, where possible, to help deal with the delays.

The troubles came days after Toronto-based Porter Airlines experienced a computer outage that saw forced a 2.5-hour ground stop Saturday. Five Porter flights were cancelled and about 400 passengers had to alter their travel plans.

Several U.S. airlines suffered problems last fall after a computer outage at a company that runs airline technology systems.

American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America said a technology glitch briefly interrupted their operations.

The U.S. airlines blamed their difficulties on a breakdown in systems operated by Sabre Corp., a Texas company that provides software and other technology services to airlines and hotels.

A Sabre spokeswoman said its system wasn't responsible for Air Canada's disruption. Porter also said its problem wasn't traced to Sabre.

Airlines rely on complex computer programs to handle everything from selling tickets to checking weight calculations before takeoff. When outages occur, they often lead to cascading delays that can linger for hours.

"They all run very complex computer systems and so these are the things that from time to time do occur," said airline analyst Chris Murray of AltaCorp Capital. "There's no real pattern that you've seen of there being a systematic issue here."

— With files from The Associated Press.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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