The two fibre net lines gave way around 4.40pm, forcing airline staff to keep passengers waiting before eventually issuing boarding cards manually to as many as possible.The sudden disruption caused crowds to swell at the terminal’s entry points as well.
Inside, serpentine queues built up as passengers waited to get their boarding cards and drop check-in baggage. While systems were restored at 6.45pm, the backlog in peak hour passenger traffic took time to clear. An airline official said all affected passengers had been cleared at T2 by 8pm.
Mumbai International Airport Ltd said at 7.20pm: “There was a network interruption resulting from a cable cut during some construction work in the city. This interrupted the various ticketing systems. All systems are now restored and working.”
Sources said ongoing metro construction work inadvertently led to two Tata fibre internet cables malfunctioning, due to which internet connectivity was “completely down, causing airport-wide outage”. As a result, the “common use terminal equipment” (CUTE) used for sharing of traditional check-in desks and the software platform to generate check-in bag tags failed.
An IndiGo official said: “We issued boarding cards through our kiosks manually as the check-in counters were not working. That led to long queues and high wait times for passengers.”
According to the CISF, the crowd was “slightly more than normal and managed well. There was no chaos as manual passes (were) issued.” When the systems went down, MIAL had requested passengers to keep extra time on hand for check-in and to “connect with their respective airlines”.
In the past few years, there have been instances of an individual airline’s check-in system facing glitches due to a server collapse. On Thursday, however, the entire terminal’s CUTE went down.
Airlines and airports switch over to manual issuance of boarding cards and bag tags when CUTE systems fail. However, the manual system is slower. “Had the problem persisted for one or two hours more, flight delays would have started happening,” an airline official said.
In a statement before the network came back to life, MIAL had said: “…. Our teams are present on the ground and manual processing has been initiated to facilitate all passengers… Our airport staff are working with the airlines to be able to facilitate and address concerns while we all collectively work with airlines and the cable provider to address the issue quickly. We sincerely regret the inconvenience and thank our passengers for their understanding.”
Watch: Long queues at Mumbai Airport’s Terminal 2 after server crash