LATEST: British Airways says 'power supply issue' behind IT failure that grounded flights

LATEST: British Airways says 'power supply issue' behind IT failure that grounded flights

UPDATE 6.50pm: British Airways says it believes a "power supply issue" was the cause of a global IT failure that grounded scores of flights today.

Passengers were told not to travel to the London airports because of "extreme congestion" after all BA flights from Heathrow and Gatwick were cancelled.

Chief executive Alex Cruz said: "We believe the root cause was a power supply issue and we have no evidence of any cyber attack."

BA said delays could continue into Sunday, but most long-haul flights should be able to land as normal in London.

A BA spokeswoman said: "We are working hard to get our customers who were due to fly today on to the next available flights over the course of the rest of the weekend. Those unable to fly will be offered a full refund."

There were chaotic scenes at the London terminals on Saturday as people tried to make their way overseas for the long weekend and half-term school holiday.

BA initially cancelled all flights before 6pm but later announced that planes would be grounded for the rest of the day.

A letter from British Airways being handed to passengers. Pic: PA
A letter from British Airways being handed to passengers. Pic: PA

UPDATE 6.15pm: The British Airways IT crash has caused unprecedented disruption for the airline which could last for several days, experts say.

Thousands of holidaymakers were stranded after BA flights from Heathrow and Gatwick were grounded on Saturday.

It is feared that it could take days for services to return to normal and clear the backlog of passengers.

Air industry consultant John Strickland said: "There's a massive knock-on effect.

"Customers and from the airline's point of view - manpower, dealing with the backlog of aircraft out of position, parking spaces for the aircraft - it's a challenge and a choreographic nightmare."

He added that the problems with BA's IT systems last year were not on the scale of this issue.

"They were bedding in a new check-in system last year and there were teething problem but not of the magnitude of this," Mr Strickland said.

The disruption has been compounded by the timing of the outage coinciding with a bank holiday weekend and school half-term holidays.

"Heathrow ordinarily would be busy but would be exacerbated by the bank holiday, half-term and Ascension Day, which is celebrated in a lot of Europe," Mr Strickland added.

"Even if they could quickly get the show back on the road, which is a big uncertainty, disruption could run into several days."

Update 4.30pm: British Airways has cancelled all flights from Gatwick and Heathrow for the rest of Saturday after a global IT crash.

Passengers have been told not to travel to the London airports because of "extreme congestion", with scores left stranded at the terminals.

A spokeswoman for the airline said: "We are working hard to get our customers who were due to fly today onto the next available flights over the course of the rest of the weekend. Those unable to fly will be offered a full refund."

BA said delays could continue into Sunday, but most long-haul flights should be able to land as normal in London.

"Following the major IT system failure experienced earlier today, with regret we have had to cancel all flights leaving from Heathrow and Gatwick for the rest of today, Saturday, May 27," the statement added.

"The system outage has also affected our call centres and our website but we will update customers as soon as we are able to.

"We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience this is causing our customers during this busy holiday period."

Eearlier: British Airways has cancelled all flights from Gatwick and Heathrow as computer problems cause disruption worldwide.

Passengers have been told not to travel to the London airports because of "extreme congestion" at the terminals, with all BA planes grounded before 6pm on Saturday.

A spokeswoman for the airline said: "We have experienced a major IT system failure that is causing very severe disruption to our flight operations worldwide."

BA added: "We've found no evidence that it's a cyber attack."

"The terminals at Heathrow and Gatwick have become extremely congested and we have cancelled all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick before 6pm UK time today, so please do not come to the airports," the airline continued.

"We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience this is causing our customers and we are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible."

Queues at the BA desk in Heathrow. Picture: @theboyg/PA
Queues at the BA desk in Heathrow. Picture: @theboyg/PA

Travellers have been told to check the airline website and twitter account for updates about the situation.

Travellers have been told to check the airline website and twitter account for updates about the situation.

It comes as scores of Britons headed overseas for the long weekend and half-term school holidays on Saturday morning.

The airline has experienced issues with its online check-in systems in the past.

Passengers were hit by severe delays in September and July last year because of IT glitches.

The latest problem meant parts of BA's website were unavailable and some travellers were unable check in on the mobile app, with many venting their frustration on social media.

Melissa Davis, who runs a legal PR agency in London, was held for more than an hour and a half on the tarmac at Heathrow, on a BA flight returning from Belfast.

Speaking from the plane, Miss Davis said the air conditioning had been off "so I don't think we will be going anywhere any time soon", but added that the passengers had been kept informed by their pilot and given water while they remained seated.

She later said she and others were then told they could not transfer to other flights because "they can't bring up our details".

Henry Tail, a 27-year-old teacher from London, claimed he had missed his flight to Rome because of the technical problems.

"I checked in online using the BA app at 8.15 for my flight at 9.25, then went and had breakfast," he told the Press Association.

"At some point, the app restarted and when I went to go through security, I couldn't log in to my booking to get my QR code.

"This meant I couldn't go through security, and by the time I'd gone back and forth to various customer service desks, the flight had closed," he said.

Gareth Wharton, also at Heathrow Terminal 5, tweeted a picture of BA staff writing gate information on a whiteboard amid the systems outage.

"Gets worse, #T5 staff having to put gate info up on a white board #LowFi #Heathrow," he tweeted.

Passengers at Gatwick Airport faced chaotic scenes and long queues due to a baggage system problem on Friday.

Those taking flights were forced to travel without their hold bags and were asked to carry any essential items in their hand luggage.

Heathrow said it has posted extra staff at the terminals and warned BA passengers on flights before 6pm not to go to the airport.

"Passengers travelling with British Airways after 6pm should check the status of their flight before travelling to the airport," it added in a statement.

Dan Power said he and his 80-year-old grandmother are stranded at Heathrow, waiting for a flight to Milan, and have had no information from BA.

He told BBC News they have been offered "absolutely nothing" in the way of refreshments and added: "We haven't been offered any chairs, any water, any vouchers - nothing.

"I don't think our week's holiday will happen at this rate.

"My main concern now is I don't want my 80-year-old grandma spending the night on Heathrow floor - but all the hotels are fully booked, we don't have any transport back up north, so we are actually stuck in Heathrow with nowhere to go."

Several passengers at Heathrow told the Press Association they had not been informed their flights had been cancelled until more than an hour after the airline put out a press statement announcing the decision.

Images posted to social media showed a group of people gathered around the customer services desk at Heathrow's Terminal 5 trying to get information.

Shortly after the statement was released, Terry Page, 28, from London, said: "There's no such announcement here. The boards are showing 'Go to gate' and no mention of cancellations."

More than an hour later, he said cancellations of individual flights were still being announced.

"They've announced them 30 minutes apart - I think to prevent panic and mass exit," he suggested.

Footage filmed at Terminal 5 showed long queues at customer services, after passengers had been advised that they would be unable to rebook due to systems remaining down.

Student Emily Wilson told the Press Association that she had been advised "we are unable to get bags, and that no more flights are taking off", several hours after having arrived at the airport for her flight to Stockholm.

LATEST: British Airways says 'power supply issue' behind IT failure that grounded flights

Ms Wilson added: "We were told (it would be) about three hours for collecting bags, that all compensation will have to be done online, and that we are unable to rebook flights now because of the system being down."

She said that information on screens still suggested her flight could board shortly, but that staff contradicted that information, saying there were "no slots left".

More in this Section

Spain on edge after two days of violent protests in CataloniaSpain on edge after two days of violent protests in Catalonia

Nasa says new spacesuits for moonwalking will consign bunny hops to historyNasa says new spacesuits for moonwalking will consign bunny hops to history

Brexit Secretary confirms Johnson would request Brexit delay if no deal is in placeBrexit Secretary confirms Johnson would request Brexit delay if no deal is in place

Warmer spring evenings causing birds to breed earlier, research findsWarmer spring evenings causing birds to breed earlier, research finds


Lifestyle

Food news with Joe McNamee.The Menu: All the food news of the week

Though the Killarney tourism sector has been at it for the bones of 150 years or more, operating with an innate skill and efficiency that is compelling to observe, its food offering has tended to play it safe in the teeth of a largely conservative visiting clientele, top-heavy with ageing Americans.Restaurant Review: Mallarkey, Killarney

We know porridge is one of the best ways to start the day but being virtuous day in, day out can be boring.The Shape I'm In: Food blogger Indy Power

Timmy Creed is an actor and writer from Bishopstown in Cork.A Question of Taste: Timmy Creed

More From The Irish Examiner