10 January 2010

Altea Outage in OZ - Long Term Impact?

Qantas, the first user of the full Altea airline reservation system suite from Amadeus, suffered a major outage (as it turned out "outages" is more accurate as it kept going up and down) on 3 Jan 2010. This follows a separate outage in September and a "meltdown" in November as reported by the main Sydney newspaper. This outage apparently continued on Jan 6th. Of course no official word on the outage on the QF website. A spokesman for QF claimed that there was intermittent outages for about an hour.

There is a good synopsis from Tim Hughes. The approach taken by Tim indicates how the attitude of the regime change (from old school Dixon) to the current team (ex-Jetstar Irishman Joyce) will affect the future of the mainline airline. With QF now open to foreign investment (under the terms of the recent Australian Government White Paper on Aviation) the winds of change are now likely to sweep in.

So if I may I will pick up on the point Tim was making. QF is heading down a very different path than the one outlined by Geoff Dixon and we can be assured that the old cronyism of the dominant market player is not likely to be tolerated by Joyce and his team. However whether the rank and file get that is another matter. Clearly the customer service functions were clearly unprepared for it and the event went from bad to worse. The twitterhea that ensued was ample to say the least.

I will draw the analogy between Ryanair (that moves a heck of a lot more passengers) who handled multiple outages in August of 2010 including peak times and how they dealt with the problems and QF. I fully accept that FR is a different animal. But they coped with the issues and moved their passengers efficiently.

For Amadeus - not everyone is smiling - this must be a big black eye. QF has been their shining example how well they do. Altea has many issues not least of which is the time taken to implement and the cost of the system - both in operating costs and implementation costs. I have spoken to several airlines who went through the pain of the cutover process and almost all have been less than enthusiastic about how it went. Again we know that it is a very unpleasant experience going through that cutover process. I have personally lived and worked on two major res system cutovers. They are a nightmare. For potential users of Amadeus Altea Suite - even some who have already signed up - there is a lot of disquiet about the whole process. Given the hiccups that occurred in November and December with TAM, they are right to go back and make sure that all the contingency plans are in place. Some airlines are seriously thinking of running for the hills though!

For QF and Amadeus - I see some of this wind of change occurring sooner rather than later. Amadeus can kiss goodbye any chance it had of capturing Jetstar. Amadeus will not be quite so central to their future and QF will likely start to cast its net a little wider to other systems to help it transform from the legacy and stodgy old line business of the former regime into a much more nimble player. CEO Alan Joyce has made no bones about the fact that QF mainline must shape up or the routes will go to Jetstar. Amadeus should be under no illusions that it affects them too.

Now they have a lot of repair work to do.


With special thanks to the SMH and DT.com.au for the images


Tim Hughes said...

Professor - great post.

Tim Hughes said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I heard that the pre-christmas outage was caused by the load on the system when finnair removed all its flights due to an imminent pilot strike. Your comment seems very general knowledge based but if you look at what QF is doing itself - they have removed all the competent staff handling the system and face a high possibility of causing their own mistakes. It is not an exceptional situation for passengers to face delays for multiple reasons in airport conditions and how QF deal with passengers who are delayed for any amount of time is not really dependent on what occurs in the altea Customer system.
The Altea platform still seems to gain in popularity and has seen very few glitches for such a large scale project.