Ilona Wiesenbach and Riham Alcosaa

BERLIN (Reuters) – Thousands of passengers around the world were left stranded after an IT glitch at Germany’s flagship carrier Lufthansa caused flight delays and disruption at airlines across the group.

“There is a group-wide IT system failure,” a spokesman told Reuters

The company said the problem was caused by damage to several Deutsche Telekom fiber optic cables during construction work in Frankfurt. The repairs will take until Wednesday afternoon, Lufthansa said.

Photos and videos from several German airports showed chaos with thousands of passengers waiting to check in.

Shares in Lufthansa, which also owns SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings, were down 1.5% at 10:17 GMT.

Passengers said on social media that the glitch forced the company to board planes with pen and paper and that it was unable to process passengers’ luggage digitally.

Lufthansa said on Twitter: “Lufthansa Group airlines are currently affected by an IT failure. This causes flight delays and cancellations. We regret the inconvenience this is causing our passengers.”

Bloomberg News reported that Lufthansa had suspended all of its flights, but the company told Reuters it could not confirm this.

“There are still flights in the air, they will not be brought to the ground,” said a company representative.

Germany’s federal cyber agency BSI was not immediately available for comment.

The IT system failure came two days before planned strikes at seven German airports are expected to cause major disruption, including potentially at the Munich Security Conference, where world leaders are expected to gather.

Scandinavian airline SAS said it was hit by a cyber attack on Tuesday evening and urged customers to refrain from using its app, but later said it had fixed the problem.

Unknown attackers cut the cables of Germany’s public railway in December, in what was seen as the second sabotage against Deutsche Bahn in as many months.

Airlines canceled more than 1,300 flights and more than 10,000 were delayed in the United States last month after a key government computer system went down.

(Reporting by Ilona Wiesenbach and Riham Alkosao; Editing by Mathias Williams and Mark Potter)

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