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System failure clips fees

System failure clips fees

Jetstar passengers did not have to pay fees for changes made to flights because of the software problems.

A systems failure that caused mayhem for passengers and call centre staff at low-cost airline Jetstar on Monday night has been blamed on problems at Accenture's online travel technology subsidiary, Navitaire. The outage, which is understood to have been caused by Navitaire's Open Skies product, has forced the airline to forgo fees that are usually levied on passengers who opt to change their flight times after they have booked online.

Jetstar passengers said yesterday they had been told they would not be charged for changes made to flights because of the software problems that resulted in lengthy waiting times at call centres.

A Jetstar spokeswoman said the airline had suffered "systems issues with bookings" for about two hours on Monday night, but claimed that any disruption to passengers' flight plans had been minimal.

The glitch is an unwanted headache for Navitaire, which has successfully used its entirely web-based products to challenge the dominance of global distribution system provider Amadeus.

A spokesman for Navitaire confirmed that it had experienced problems, but denied it had extended to other Australian customers Virgin Blue and Tiger Airways.

"Navitaire had a minor issue last night which resulted in a slower than usual experience for one customer," the spokesman said.

A spokeswoman for Virgin Blue said the airline had upgraded its version of Open Skies over the weekend, but had not experienced any problems.

Low cost airlines have embraced Open Skies because the system allows customers to bypass travel agents and book directly online with airlines. At the same time it eliminates the need for large capital investments in booking system infrastructure.

But Australian domestic airlines, including Virgin Blue, that have now expanded to offer international flights have found themselves looking to Amadeus to provide services such as interlining, which allows domestic and international flights to be combined on a single ticket.

Interline fares from long-haul airlines are a substantial source of revenue for domestic airlines because they are sold further in advance - at a higher margin than most local fares - and can represent between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of allocated seats during busy months.

In December 2007 Virgin Blue's long-haul subsidiary V Australia announced that it would use Amadeus's Altea product suite to run not just its interlining but also its entire web booking service to allow the new service to link international passengers to domestic flights.

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