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Saturday 21 April 2018

British Airways flights are facing chaos for days after computer meltdown leaves more than 100k stranded

Travellers forced to sleep on floors and luggage lost due to global computer meltdown

British Airways passengers Diana Imbach and Carrie Wright suffered delays at Dublin Airport yesterday. Photo: Doug O’Connor
British Airways passengers Diana Imbach and Carrie Wright suffered delays at Dublin Airport yesterday. Photo: Doug O’Connor

Alan O'Keeffe and Joel Adams

British Airways has presided over the worst airport chaos for decades, with disruption to continue for days, one of its own senior pilots admitted last night.

British Airways has presided over the worst airport chaos for decades, with disruption to continue for days, one of its own senior pilots admitted last night.

More than 100,000 passengers have had their travel plans thrown into chaos after a computer meltdown.

Many have had their flights cancelled, been separated from their luggage or been left stranded abroad as the airline struggles to recover from Saturday's incident.

And BA - which faces a €60m compensation bill - has now warned travellers that it may be several days before normal service can resume.

Last night it emerged that the airline had refused offers of assistance from its own IT supplier to resolve the problem.

Captain Stephen Wearing, who has flown for BA for 29 years, last night described what greeted him when he flew into Heathrow at the weekend as "the worst chaos I've ever seen".

He called the situation "unbelievable" and said he'd had to drive a cancer-stricken passenger home from Heathrow after a delay of nearly four hours on the tarmac left the elderly man stranded.

The problems continued yesterday with delays at Gatwick and mass cancellations of short-haul flights from Heathrow. Some passengers were not offered free food or water on the planes, and most left London's airports without luggage they had checked in, only to find hotels' "surge" pricing put rooms at more than £1,000 (€1,100) per night.

Passengers vented their fury at BA online, after little or no information was provided at airports.

Last night, the company's new chief executive Alex Cruz was under fire, with questions asked as to his suitability for the role after a career in low-cost airlines.

At Dublin Airport, two BA flights to Heathrow and two flights from Heathrow were cancelled yesterday.

This followed five outward flights from Dublin to Heathrow being cancelled on Saturday. A number of inbound flights from Heathrow were also cancelled.

Mother-of-two Carrie Wright (44), from Baldoyle, in Dublin, waited in line at the ticket desk at Dublin Airport yesterday after her flight was cancelled.

"I was booked on the 7.15pm flight to Heathrow but I got an email cancelling the flight at 4.40pm. I just want to get home to my family in Buckinghamshire," she said.

She said she was rebooked on an Aer Lingus flight late yesterday evening and hoped there would be no more problems.

Diana Imbach (38), from Switzerland, said she and her husband were informed their Dublin to Heathrow flight was also cancelled and they had got confirmations of a flight on Aer Lingus around the same time. They were anxious to make a connecting flight in London.

At Heathrow's Terminal 5, where BA is the dominant carrier, hundreds of passengers were waiting yesterday and flight arrival boards showed rows of cancelled flights. Passengers were curled up under blankets on the floor or sleeping slumped on trolleys.

"Many of our IT systems are back up today," BA chief executive Alex Cruz said. "All my British Airways colleagues on the ground and in the air are pulling out all the stops to get our operation back to normal."

Irish Independent

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