Iberia System Failure Causes Operational Issues in Madrid

Iberia System Failure Causes Operational Issues in Madrid

DALLAS — Multiple delays and cancellations occurred today at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD), affecting all Iberia (IB) departures from the Spanish capital and the country’s busiest airport.

The incident took place after 06:00 (local time) and was caused by a complete fault in the check-in and boarding digital systems of the airline.

The airline stated that “due to an issue with the connectivity of our systems, today’s first bank flights are experiencing delays and there have been crowds of passengers waiting to board. The Iberia team is working to solve it.”

After noticing the IT issue, ground crew and airline agents were forced to develop all check-in and boarding procedures manually and on paper, which functioned as a temporary alternative but created various delays that in some cases even resulted in flight cancellations.

A total of five IB flights from MAD were canceled due to the incident: IB3736 to Lyon (LYS), IB410 to Jerez (XRY), IB532 to Vigo (VGO), IB3014 to Barcelona (BCN), and IB3176 to London (LHR). IB flights with scheduled departures from 06:00 to 15:00 suffered delays of between 30 minutes and six hours.

Today’s IT issue is but a hiccup in the airline’s continued claim to be the No. 1 most punctual airline worldwide, having been awarded prizes for the last five years.

Iberia operates four daily flight banks out of Madrid. This offers plenty of connection possibilities but is also at high risk of being massively delayed by any issue. Photo: Adrian Nowakowski/Airways

Hub-and-Spoke Operations

Iberia is one of the so many airlines that has organized its operational strategy around the so-called “Hub and Spoke” airline model. This specific method is able to achieve very attractive itineraries for passengers seeking the quickest journey from one city to another but has also a very high risk to be damaged by particular issues that could eventually cause delays.

As such, the airline operates four daily flights to Europe, connecting passengers traveling from North and South American destinations to any IB flight in Europe. The strategy works in reverse. The airline schedules all European flights to arrive at the same time to reduce layover times for connections back to the Americas.

As said, this method is a high-risk, high-reward technique, because if anything goes out of hand, like the appearance of bad weather, an information shutdown, or the closure of the airport, an entire bank of up to hundreds of flights can be severely affected, resulting in numerous flight delays and cancellations.

A similar issue occurred two weeks ago, when a NOTAM system failure in the United States caused a nationwide disruption for more than two hours that caused chaos at the main American Airlines (AA), Delta Air Lines (DL), and United Airlines (UA) hubs on the east coast.

These airlines were also among the first to open daily flights on the American West Coast.

Featured image: An Iberia Express Airbus A320 taxiing to depart during the third bank of the day. Adrian Nowakowski/Airways

Commercial aviation enthusiast from Madrid, Spain. Studying for a degree in Air Traffic Management and Operations at the Technical University of Madrid. Aviation photographer since 2018.

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