Breakdown at Riyadh airport

Breakdown at Riyadh airport

Breakdown at Riyadh airport

Youssef Al-Mohaimeed Al-Jazirah THE world of social media was recently flooded with angry and desperate comments about the disruption of international flights departing Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport ( KKIA). The reason given for the delay and cancellation of flights was a breakdown in the airport's data network. Subsequently, the passport processing system was also hindered, affecting the surveillance system at all airports and border posts, meaning they were completely taken out of service. International flights were suspended. Passengers crowded the airport, annoying everyone. The situation reminded me of the transport system in Europe. For instance, when London’s Underground services halt due to a worker strike, the users of the Underground will be informed of the strike well in advance. They can prepare themselves for this predicament and seek alternatives, whether traveling by buses, taxis or bicycles or simply by walking. It is up to them to arrange how to reach their destination. Nobody is angry or frustrated. The important thing is that travelers will know beforehand about the absence of the metro service and so can make necessary alternative arrangements to reach their destination. The abrupt failure of the surveillance system at KKIA took all passengers by surprise and presented them with a real dilemma. (continues in the next page) Passengers may be traveling on official missions, for medical treatment, even urgent surgical operations, or simply for tourism. They may be traveling for entertainment. It is not our job to ask them why they are traveling. In any case, they will miss important appointments and lose hotel reservations and transport arrangements. The unexpected delay will aggravate their miseries and increase their frustration. How on earth did the international airport in the Kingdom's capital city neglect to have alternative arrangements in place on the off chance that there was a failure in its computer system? Is it not natural that alternatives for the system are put in place to work automatically when there is any unexpected fault? It is true that the Directorate General of Passports (Jawazat) apologized in the aftermath of the failure, but the funny thing is that the Saudi Telecom Company (STC) in a statement has denied any fault in its data network. The company said all connections and circuits were safe and free from any kind of malfunctioning. It said that when it received information about the fault in the system, it immediately made the necessary checks and inspections, which proved beyond any doubt that there were no faults in its data network. The company further said its systems have backups, which will work automatically when there is any fault in its network. We thank the Jawazat for its apology to passengers, no doubt a civilized gesture. I am not doubting Jawazat’s story, but have an important question to ask: Has the Jawazat really learned its lesson and won’t allow for any recurrence of such incidents? Will it immediately install backups in all the Kingdom's airports that will enable it to carry out its business as usual when there are faults in the computer systems? Can we hope not to have any system breakdown, which really is a lame excuse? Is it too much for us to have this simple dream?