You are on page 1of 3

In 1997, Eric Bardes joined the IT department of Comair.

He was addressing the replacement of an aging legacy system the regional airline utilized to manage flight crews. This application was 11 years old at that time and was written in Fortran. No one at Comair was fluent in this program. Then SBS International came up with new Maestro crew management software. It is first generation windows application. But Bardes found this program slow. So Comair waited for changing. This change time continued to 2000 and Comair selected a vendor in that year. After that year Comair experienced very challenging events. They are managing the approach of Y2K, purchase of the independent carrier by Delta, a pilot strike and 9/11 attacks and following downturn. Comair was a regional airline which was a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, headquartered on the grounds of Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport. Comair was operating under the brand name Delta Connection, Comair operated passenger services to many destinations in the USA, Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas. Today Comair operates in 117 cities and carries about 30000 passengers on 1130 flights a day. In 1984, Jim Dublikar joined the Comair as director of finance and risk management. In that time Comair had 25 airplanes and no jet. In 1986 Comair leased software from SBS that kept track of crews, the flights and hours in compliance with union and federal regulations. In 1993, Comair bought a jet. It was the first bombardier CRJ regional jet in industry. Comair grew fast. But by 1996 Comair lost its competitive advantage because other regional contenders acquired their own jets. On the other hand, crew management system was getting older. In 1998 Dublikar and his IT steering committee brought in consultants from Sabre to have long term IT strategy to address the issue of legacy system and architecture and suggested a year strategy plan that outlined which systems needed to be retired, replaced or added and a time line for doing so. So the crew scheduling system was marked for retirement because that system was getting old and there was a risk. Also there were financial benefits in terms of crew productivity and expenses that could be controlled better in a new system. However, in 1998,Y2K problem emerged. Almost 1 year, company worked on it and various implementations were done including e-ticketing system, upgraded corporate network and revenue management application. Also replacement of crew scheduling system was on the list. Since old system was used in last 15 years, business had grown accustomed to SBS system. For example in old system, Julian minutes was using. But system requirements were defined and IT department was in the software selection process. Then in 1999, Dublikar left Comair and Delta announced its plans to acquire Comair.

From December 22 to 24. Comair had to cancel nearly 90 percent of its flights on December 26. According to the one Delta IT executive “Risk assessment of worst case scenarios at Comair should have happened at Delta. On Christmas Eve.5 billion$ over the following 4 years. Comair was not able to operate a full schedule until December 29. . One for pilot schedule and another for flight attendant schedules. Finally in 2004. Comair got approval from Delta to replace the legacy SBS system and inked a deal with Sabre. IT director position was vacant so in 2000 Nike Stuart was given oversight of IT and then Kurlas-Schalk was named IT director. The Comair disaster is a classic case study in operational risk. Comair was still using the nearly 20 year old crew management system from SBS. After Dublikar left. After strikes were over. all the rescheduling necessitated by the bad weather forced the system to crash. Delta also lost nearly 8. Also there was another problem. Hence Comair had to cancel 1100 flights on Christmas day. SBS implemented a bridge solution. Comair IT executives should have done the kind of risk management analysis that would be alerted Delta to the dangers of not replacing the legacy system sooner. dividing the legacy system into two modules. Comair continued to run independently. No one at Comair knew the crew management application and that system could process only a set number of changes before shutting down. A severe storm hit the Ohio Valley. Implementation was set to begin in 2005. For many parts. an 89 day pilot strike from March to June shut down Comair and Cincinnati Kentucky International Airport where Delta and Comair operate 90 percent of all flights. Deicing the jets took much longer than expected. Then in 2002 Comair IT group brought in several vendors including Sabre and SBS. Hence plans are still in the works to replace it. The snow came with sleet and freezing rain.However Comair was not welcome to its new owner. stranding tens of thousands of passengers heading home for holidays. There was no backup system. But at the end of 2004 some unexpected events occurred. Also Delta executives should have insisted on scrutinizing Comair’s operations and done their own analysis of the carrier’s risks. After that 9/11 attacks came out and this caused pushing some large carriers to bankruptcy. Comair did not think much about replacing the crew scheduling system. After all. So there was an uncertainty in IT leadership and everyone was expecting someone else to move projects along. In 2001. Comair closed its Cincinnati concourse and lose more than 800 daily flights also Delta losses 200 million $ for the quarter. Comair had to cancel or delay 91 percents of flights.