Indian airline hit by ransomware attack that left many passengers stranded

SpiceJet plane

India’s SpiceJet airline said its systems faced an “attempted ransomware attack” on Tuesday, delaying flights and leaving many stranded at airports.

Several flights were delayed on Wednesday, with passengers complaining about lack of service. Many tweeted photographs and videos saying that they had been waiting for hours after boarding, without any response from the airline.

SpiceJet later said in a statement that the situation had been rectified. “Our IT team has contained and rectified the situation and flights are operating normally now,” it tweeted.

Following the airline’s tweet, many passengers took to social media to say they were still stranded at various airports, they said they were waiting for hours without food or water, and had little communication from ground staff.

One passenger, Mudit Shejwar, tweeted that his flight to the town of Dharamsala had been delayed for more than three hours. “It’s been already 80 minutes since we boarded the plane, we have not taken off yet. The only communication is of some server [is] down and [there is an] issue with paper work for fuel. Is this for real?”

Others tweeted at the airline, asking for information about the status of their flights, with some complaining that “ground staff has disappeared from the gate”. Some pointed out that operations had still not begun, and that airline staff were not aware. A passenger at an airport in the eastern state of West Bengal shared a picture of his wife’s fractured foot saying that their flight had been delayed for hours.

Last week, multiple SpiceJet flights were not allowed to operate as the airline had reportedly not made payments to the Airports Authority of India (AAI). Times of India newspaper reported that the airline said its auto payment facility had an issue due to which the payment could not be processed.

AAI, which manages airports across India, put SpiceJet on a “cash and carry” mode- where a credit facility to an airline is withdrawn – since 2020, due to the airline’s inability to clear airport dues.

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