British Airways canceled all its flights from London’s two biggest airports on Saturday after a global computer system failure caused confusion and chaos, with thousands of passengers queuing for hours and planes left stuck on runways.
The failure, caused by a power supply problem, disrupted BA’s flight operations worldwide and also hit its call centers and website, said Alex Cruz, the chairman and chief executive of BA, part of Europe’s largest airline group IAG.
“All of our check-in and operational systems have been affected and we have canceled all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick for today,” Cruz said in a video message on Twitter.
“We are extremely sorry for the huge inconvenience this is causing our customers and we understand how frustrating this must be, especially for families hoping to get away on holiday.”
He said the airline’s IT teams were working “tirelessly” to fix the problem and there was no evidence of any cyber attack.
The problems, which passengers said had affected flights across Britain, came on a particularly busy weekend with a public holiday on Monday and many children starting their school half-term breaks.
Terminals at Heathrow and Gatwick became jammed with angry passengers, with confused BA staff unable to help as they had no access to their computers.
“It’s a complete nightmare. There’s just hundreds and thousands of people accumulating in the departures bit,” Roshni Burt, who was flying from Heathrow to Bahrain with her young son, told Reuters.
She arrived at the airport at 0730 GMT, queued for hours at the check-in, where the baggage drop-off system stopped working, and then waited at the departure gate for two hours until passengers were told the flight was canceled.
All the affected passengers were corralled through a single gate so they could go back through border checks and then re-book flights.
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