Home / Companies / News /  Ransomware attack disrupts SpiceJet flights

NEW DELHI : An attempted ransomware attack disrupted operations of low-fare airline SpiceJet on Tuesday night, leaving passengers stranded at airports early on Wednesday morning. The attack slowed down flight departures, the airline said in a statement.

“Certain SpiceJet systems faced an attempted ransomware attack last night that impacted and slowed down morning flight departures today," the airline said in a statement.

“Our IT team has contained and rectified the situation, and flights are operating normally now," the statement said, without giving the total number of flights delayed, cancelled or diverted during the day.

On social media platform Twitter, the airline said that it cancelled flights to airports that have restrictions on night operations. “SpiceJet is in touch with experts and cybercrime authorities on the issue," it added.

However, several passengers vented their frustration after flights remained delayed throughout the day. Many expressed their displeasure at the airline for not responding to customers.

“@flyspicejet we are checked in at 5:55 am for Flight SG2950 Delhi-Varanasi today flying schedule was 6:25, passengers stuck since 2 hours, it is strange no official came from SpiceJet to clarify for the excess delay, very shameful, gross negligence," Satish Poonia, state president (Rajasthan) of Bharatiya Janta Party, said on Twitter on Wednesday morning.

“The flights are NOT operating normally! The Delhi Dharamshala flight is still stranded on the runway since 6am! I have a sick child with me, making this wait extremely difficult. There is no update on when the flight will take off or whether it will take off or not! @MoCA_India," said another passenger Prajakta Tanksale on Twitter.

A recent report by US cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks said ransomware attacks on organizations in India tripled in 2021. Another report from French tech firm Thales said one in four Indian organizations suffered a ransomware attack in 2021, higher than the global average of 21%. Out of the targeted organizations, 30% saw significant business disruption after the attack.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has put SpiceJet on cash-and-carry mode, which requires it to make daily payments for facilities provided at airports.

Airport operators and oil marketing companies (OMCs) typically deny credit facilities to airlines with outstanding dues.

According to a Times of India report, a number of SpiceJet flights were not allowed to operate last Friday as the airline didn’t clear its payments in advance. The struggling airline’s accumulated losses neared 5,478 crore at the end of 31 December 2021, while its liabilities exceeded assets by 6,347 crore during the same period. The steep rise in fuel prices in the last few months will further hurt the airline’s financials.

Brokerage Elara Capital estimated SpiceJet to report a loss of 520 crore in the March quarter.

“We believe strong March domestic (air passenger traffic) demand at 91% of pre-covid levels raised hopes of normalization by mid-CY22E, but record-high crude oil prices pose a threat to the nascent recovery," it said in a recent report.

On Wednesday, SpiceJet shares fell 0.91% to 49.25 on BSE, down from the previous day, while the benchmark Sensex closed 0.56% lower at 53,749.26.

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