Airline websites under pressure

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Customers jostling to snap up some of the cheap airfares being offered by Virgin Blue and Qantas-owned Jetstar Airways have been faced with slow response times on both the airlines' websites.

Nick Brant, head of IT at airline Virgin Blue said that, from a website perspective, the airline was seeing a load about five times its normal daily averages. “Whenever we have a sales event we expect the load to increase,” Brant said. “We certainly knew that we would be getting more than we normally do.”

Brant said that while Virgin Blue's website had been slow at times, it had not gone down. He said that there were a lot of people out there trying to use the website, and it was asking people to be patient.

“[There is] a lot of capacity in our website infrastructure, so we make that extra capacity available as we need it,” he said.

A Qantas spokesperson confirmed that the Jetstar website “may have been slow at times”, but said it certainly had not crashed. She said the airline had quadrupled the capacity of its website overnight.

When interviewed earlier this afternoon, the spokesperson said Jetstar had taken 30,000 bookings since 6am this morning, and more than three million page impressions since 2pm yesterday.

The airline was taking 200 bookings per minute, she said. It had opened its call centre two hours earlier today to cope with the demand.

The high demand on Jetstar and Virgin Blue's websites today was a result of both airlines offering some special $29 fares. Yesterday Brett Godfrey, chief executive at Virgin Blue, pledged to offer 200,000 $29 discounted seats, after Jetstar had offered 100,000.

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