Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Tim Ockenden/PA Images
computer outage

British Airways cancels all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick after massive IT failure

Some passengers have suggested that the outage was caused by a lightning strike.

Updated at 4.30pm

BRITISH AIRWAYS CANCELLED all its flights out of major London airports Heathrow and Gatwick after an IT systems failure, leaving hundreds stranded.

“We have experienced a major IT system failure that is causing very severe disruption to our flight operations worldwide,” BA said in an early afternoon statement.

BA flights out of Heathrow and Gatwick were initially cancelled until 6pm, but the airline later said there would be no flights for the rest of the day.

It said it had found “no evidence that it’s a cyberattack”, with Britain still recovering from a ransomware attack that crippled key infrastructure earlier this month.

“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,” BA said, adding that its call centres and website were also affected.

The outage comes on a busy holiday weekend in Britain, where Monday is a public holiday and many schoolchildren are beginning their half-term break.

BA warned people not to come to the “extremely congested” airports, but an AFP photographer at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 said many travellers were waiting outside the departure area with their luggage in “chaotic” scenes.

They were not being allowed inside the terminal for health and safety reasons, prompting some of them to take taxis away from the transport hub.

‘Calm despite chaos’

Travellers wrote on Twitter that they were unable to check in or use the airline’s app, while others said they had been left stranded on the tarmac.

“None of your staff know what the heck is going on. Nor do your passengers. Can we have some info please? Chaos here,” tweeted Chris Ship, Royal Editor for ITV News, to BA.

One passenger, Julie Adie, wrote that she had been stuck on the runway for an hour without an offer of drinks.

Another Twitter user called Jo called it a “terrorist’s dream”, writing that “people getting off plane with/without luggage. Some staying on”.

BA said that those unable to fly would be offered a full refund, warning that some delays and disruption could continue into tomorrow.

“Most long-haul flights due to land in London tomorrow are expected to arrive as normal, and we are working to restore our services from tomorrow,” the company said.

Delays were reported in other European cities including Rome, Prague, Milan, Stockholm and Malaga.

Inside Heathrow’s Terminal 5, Luke Hallard wrote that “everyone remarkably calm despite British Airways chaos, but wait until the lounge runs out of booze”.

Alma Saffari told the BBC that her flight from Marseille to London had been grounded.

“When we finally boarded the captain came out and told us their computer systems were down worldwide,” she said.

Eventually after sitting on the tarmac for one and a half hours we disembarked the plane.
Now we are sitting in the departure area outside the gate.

Some users suggested that the blackout was caused by a bolt of lightning:

The company said it was “extremely sorry for the inconvenience this is causing our customers during this busy holiday period”.

The airline has suffered other IT glitches recently, leading to severe delays for passengers in July and September last year.

With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

Read: ‘This was an international attack’: NHS plunged into chaos in large-scale cyber hack

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.