Bart Jansen , USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Airlines are bolstering their technology after outages in recent years canceled thousands of flights, but travelers would like better compensation for the glitches, a House panel heard Wednesday.
Asked about cybersecurity, Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden told the House Transportation subcommittee on aviation that his carrier quadrupled its information-technology spending in the last five years.
“It’s a big, big concern for every U.S. company. It’s a particular concern for airlines,” Tilden said. “We have gone from roughly $50 million a year to roughly $200 million spent on IT.”
Each of the major airlines has suffered a major outage in recent years, which could each strand passengers on thousands of flights for several days. Delta Air Lines lost $150 million in income from an August outage and Southwest Airlines lost $55 million in revenue from a July outage.
Technology experts say airlines are vulnerable to the problems because they must update complex systems governing reservations and flight schedules while remaining in operation. As airlines merge, their computer programming might not be compatible, with glitches sometimes prompting shutdowns for unexpectedly.