Sun Country software outage causes delays, major travel headaches

Planes are getting back on schedule while the company tries to determine what caused the outage

An employee works behind a check-in kiosk.
Sun Country says passengers are beginning to board flights again Thursday morning after a software outage by a company that provides systems to the airline caused major delays.
Marty Moylan | MPR News 2008

Sun Country Airlines says passengers are beginning to board flights again Thursday morning after a software outage by a company that provides systems to the airline caused major delays at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and other airports. 

The airline says that Dubai-based AIMS international, which provides airline operation software to dozens of smaller airlines, has had a major outage affecting Sun Country and other airlines it supports — many of them in Asia and Europe. AIMS handles crew scheduling, business planning and operations controls for passenger and cargo airlines. 

Sun Country says it is manually handling some of the operations and getting some flights in the air, but that it doesn’t know what caused the AIMS outage or when it will be resolved. The airline says it is waiving change fees for travelers Thursday and encourages people to make changes online, as call centers are handling increased volume. 

The outage comes on what travelers expect will be the busiest day since the pandemic began, and social media postings show big crowds at the Twin Cities airport waiting for flights. 

“There are a lot of moving parts that help air travel move smoothly,” said Kyle Potter, executive editor at Thrifty Traveler, a travel website based in Minnesota. He said air travel is experiencing a variety of issues, as airlines cut staff and operations drastically during the pandemic and haven’t fully recovered. 

“If everything goes completely perfect, if there are no weather issues, or there are no software issues, they can probably make it work,” said Potter, who was monitoring the Sun Country outage. “But any time you throw a curveball in the mix — we’re seeing it again and again, and we’re probably going to continue to see it this summer until airlines can staff up appropriately. When anything goes wrong, expect some trouble.” 

The outage follows other system breakdowns that hit Southwest, Delta, United and American airlines in spring 2021. Sun Country seems to be the only U.S. carrier that’s reporting major difficulties today because of the AIMS outage. 

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