London: British Airways cancelled all flights from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports yesterday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy UK holiday weekend.
The airline said it was suffering a “major IT systems failure” around the world.
Chief executive Alex Cruz said “we believe the root cause was a power-supply issue and we have no evidence of any cyberattack.”
He said the crash had affected “all of our check-in and operational systems.”
BA operates hundreds of flights from the two London airports on a typical day — and both are major hubs for worldwide travel.
Several hours after problems began cropping up yesterday morning, BA suspended flights up to 6pm because the two airports had become severely congested. The airline later scrapped flights from Heathrow and Gatwick for the rest of the day.
The airline said it was working to restore services out of Heathrow and Gatwick today, although some disruptions are expected. It said it expected that London-bound long-haul flights would land on schedule today.
Passengers at Heathrow reported long lines at check-in counters and the failure of both the airline’s website and its mobile app. BA said the crash also affected its call centres.
Passenger Phillip Norton tweeted video of an announcement from a pilot to passengers at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, saying the problem affects the system that regulates what passengers and baggage go on which aircraft. The pilot said passengers on planes that have landed at Heathrow were unable to get off because there was nowhere to park.
American Airlines, which operates code-share flights with BA, said it was unaffected.
Air industry consultant John Strickland said Saturday’s problems would have “a massive knock-on effect” for several days. “Manpower, dealing with the backlog of aircraft out of position, parking spaces for the aircraft —it’s a challenge and a choreographic nightmare,” he said.
A union official blamed BA cost cutting for the travel chaos, saying the airline had laid off hundreds of IT staff last year and outsourced the work to India.