Sun | Aug 20, 2017

BA outage creates London travel chaos

Published:Sunday | May 28, 2017 | 5:00 AM
Passengers stand with their luggage outside Terminal 5 at London's Heathrow airport after flights were canceled due to the airport suffering an IT systems failure, yesterday.

LONDON (AP):

British Airways (BA) 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 6 p.m. 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 beginning today, although some disruptions are expected. It said it expected that London-bound long-haul flights would land on schedule today.

The problem came on a bank holiday weekend, when tens of thousands of Britons and their families are travelling.

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.

Airlines depend on huge, overlapping and complex IT systems to do just about everything, from operating flights to handling ticketing, boarding, websites and mobile-phone apps. Some critics say complex airline technology systems have not always kept up with the times.

And after years of rapid consolidation in the business, these computer systems may be a hodgepodge of parts of varying ages and from different merger partners, all layered on top of each other.