British Airways – IT failure caused 1000 flights to be cancelled

Thousands of passengers were left stranded at Heathrow and Gatwick airports after flights were grounded by an IT systems failure.

cancelled flights
(c) Sean O'Neill
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Never in UK aviation history has there been a worse incident of IT failure as seen in the last few days.

BA is now facing huge compensation costs after all its flights from Gatwick and Heathrow were cancelled on Saturday.

Read: Are you entitled to airline compensation

Families that had planned a getaway to enjoy the half-term break had their hopes dashed and their plans ruined when the airline had to cancel more than 1000 flights. Some passengers had to spend a two nights sleeping on the floor or in local hotels whose room rates rocketed to profit from the situation.

Over the weekend some flights departed without all the bags with promises that the “bags will be forwarded to passengers as soon as possible at their destination”.

The airline blamed failure of servers that host the “Fly” system – a cyber attack has been ruled out. Sources indicated that BA did have back-up power supplies but that failed too. All of BA’s check-in and operational systems were affected by the issue, including the airline’s customer service phone lines and rebooking function. The incident had a knock-on effect on BA’s operations around the world.

Howard Wheeldon, an aviation analyst predicts “incalculable” loss of future business owing to damage to BA’s reputation over this debacle. “It isn’t only two days,” he said. “It’s the impact on people’s confidence.”

Though normality is beginning to creep back with a full schedule of long-haul flights from Heather and a “high proportion” of its short-haul programme, passengers are still being advised to check their flights before travelling.

A BA spokesman said:

We would never compromise the integrity and security of our IT systems. IT services are now provided globally by a range of suppliers and this is very common practice across all industries We are extremely sorry for the disruption.