AirTran Systems Upgrade Hits Turbulence

Discount airline AirTran Airways says a “preplanned outage” to update its reservations and check-in systems early this week turned into all-day unplanned outage on Tuesday, delaying an unknown number of flights.

The company says it had planned to shut down the reservations and check-in systems at 10 p.m. on Monday, June 19, and bring them back online at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The systems are operated by Navitaire, a division of consulting firm Accenture that provides outsourced services to the airline industry.

However, the new version of the system was not operational by early Tuesday. That left AirTran passengers unable to check in via the company’s Web site or at kiosks in airports, according to the airline. Ticket agents were also unable to print boarding passes.

The company says that as of 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, its systems were back online and “stabilized.”

AirTran, based in Orlando, Fla., did not disclose how many flights or passengers the system problems had affected. The airline operates about 600 daily flights to 49 destinations. However, AirTran noted in a statement, the I.T. disruption resulted in “long lines at a number of airports,” primarily at its hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

In February, AirTran renewed a business process outsourcing agreement with Navitaire. Financial terms of the five-year deal were not disclosed. Navitaire, based in Minneapolis, operates Open Skies, a Web-based reservations and inventory software suite that provides online check-in and reservations capabilities for call centers. Other Navitaire customers include JetBlue Airways and Continental Airlines.

A Navitaire spokeswoman did not immediately return a call requesting more information. AirTran CIO Rocky Wiggins did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

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