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British Airways Hit By Third Day Of Disruption After IT Meltdown

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British Airways Hit By Third Day Of Disruption After IT Meltdown

British Airways Hit By Third Day Of Disruption After IT Meltdown
May 29
11:32 2017

MIAMI – British Airways was forced to cancel all of march flights out of its London Heathrow and Gatwick hubs on Saturday, after an IT meltdown over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The carrier said it would take steps to ensure there was no repeat of a computer system failure that stranded 75,000 passengers over a holiday weekend and turned into a public relations disaster.

Flight operations were returning to normal on Monday morning. The airline plans to run more than 95 percent of flights from London Heathrow and Gatwick, with only a handful of short-haul flights canceled. But recovery due to service disruptions will reverberate for weeks as passengers are forced to rebook flights, along with misplaced luggage and cargo.

The major IT meltdown – that affected more than 1,000 scheduled flights, is believed to have been caused by a power supply issue. The airline stated there is no evidence of a cyber-attack.

“Once the disruption is over, we will carry out an exhaustive investigation into what caused this incident, and take measures to ensure it never happens again,” Alex Cruz, British Airways CEO, said.

On Sunday, passengers, waiting for a solution, curled up under blankets on the floor or slumped on luggage trolleys. “It’s chaos, people are running about all over the place trying to rebook,” Cloe Thomas, Welsh International Table Tennis Player, and a British Airways customer, told Press Association.

“There’s no one to help, no leadership. There are lots of people everywhere. There’s nowhere to sit, so people are just lying on the floor, sleeping on yoga mats,” she concluded.

She added that one of the shops had sold out of food. Passengers faced long lines to check-in, rebook or find lost luggage. Her flight was from Heathrow to Germany; she was supposed to go to the World Table Tennis Championship in Düsseldorf.

Partner carriers codesharing with British Airways have sent messages to passengers to encourage them to double check their itineraries.  For its part, the airline has promised refunds to all affected, saying on its website that “those unable to fly will be offered a full refund.”

Cruz denied a union claim that the outsourcing of IT work to India had played a part in the failure. Spanish-listed shares of parent company IAG, which also owns carriers Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, dropped today 2.5 percent after the outage. The London-listed shares did not trade because of a public holiday.

Flight compensation website Flightright.com said that with around 800 flights canceled at Gatwick and Heathrow on Saturday and Sunday, British Airways should pay around 61 million euros ($68 million) in compensation under European Union (EU) rules. That does not include the cost of reimbursing customers for hotel stays.

As a total, the carrier could face a bill of at least £100m in compensation, additional customer care and lost business resulting from the IT meltdown.

British Airways is the largest carrier in the UK based on its fleet size. At Heathrow, where over 200,000 passengers are served each day, British operates the majority of flights and runs the entirety of Terminal 5. The last time, BA was plagued by operational problems this severe, was when Terminal 5 opened in March 2008. 

In the last year alone, full meltdowns of airline IT systems have shutdown entire airline networks including Southwest, United, and Delta.

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Alvaro Sanchez

Alvaro Sanchez

Online Executive Editor. Journalist and Certified Radio Host. Studying for a Specialization in Public Opinion and Political Communications. Even though I love politics I've found myself fascinated by the Aviation World. I'm also passionate by economy, strategic communications, my family, my country, and dogs. mc@airwaysmag.com

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