BA may be hit by ‘un­quan­tifi­able cost’ of IT fail­ure

Pas­sen­gers can claim sig­nif­i­cant com­pen­sa­tion

The National - News - Business - - Front page - Sananda Sa­hoo ssa­hoo@then­ational.ae

The cost to Bri­tish Air­ways from the dis­rup­tion to its flights from Lon­don’s two main hubs as a re­sult of an IT dis­rup­tion since Satur­day is ex­pected to be sig­nif­i­cant, ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts.

All BA flights were can­celled on Satur­day at Heathrow and Gatwick air­ports, af­fect­ing thou­sands of pas­sen­gers. Many who man­aged to travel had to de­part with­out their bag­gage. Flights were again af­fected yes­ter­day, with a third out of Heathrow can­celled.

The knock-on ef­fects of the ma­jor IT fail­ure are ex­pected to con­tinue to dis­rupt flights to­day.

“It’s not pos­si­ble to quan­tify the cost of this IT fail­ure at this time, but given the scale of Bri­tish Air­ways’ op­er­a­tion and the num­ber of cus­tomers af­fected, it will be sig­nif­i­cant,” said John Strick­land, an avi­a­tion an­a­lyst at the Lon­don-based JLS Con­sult­ing.

Com­pen­sa­tion to pas­sen­gers could add up quickly. Un­der Euro­pean Union flight-de­lay rules, they can claim com­pen­sa­tion of be­tween €250 (Dh1,026) and €600, de­pend­ing on the length of the de­lay.

The air­line must also pay for ho­tel stays if there is an overnight de­lay as well as trans­port to and from the air­port and meals.

“As long as Bri­tish Air­ways strug­gles to get pas­sen­gers in the air to their des­ti­na­tions, this could end up cost­ing the air­line mil­lions of pounds quite quickly,” said Saj Ah­mad, the chief an­a­lyst at Lon­don-based Strate­gicAero Re­search.

The air­line is re­book­ing pas­sen­gers or re­fund­ing them. “We have also in­tro­duced more flex­i­ble re­book­ing poli­cies for any­one due to travel on Sun­day and Mon­day [and] who no longer wishes to fly to and from Heathrow or Gatwick,” a BA spokes­woman told The Na­tional.

“Work con­tin­ues to re­store all of our IT sys­tems but we ex­pect some fur­ther dis­rup­tion,” she said. “We are aim­ing to op­er­ate the ma­jor­ity of ser­vices from Heathrow and a near nor­mal sched­ule at Gatwick.” On Satur­day, Emi­rates was able to take on some of the pas­sen­gers who were stranded. “We did take some of their pas­sen­gers on our flights out of our Lon­don gate­ways and I’m sure other air­lines did as well and that’s a reg­u­lar in­dus­try prac­tice to help af­fected pas­sen­gers,” an Emi­rates spokes­woman told The Na­tional.

Both of to­day’s BA flights to Lon­don Heathrow out of Dubai are al­most full, ac­cord­ing to the tick­et­ing of­fice of Al Rais Travel, as there were no can­cel­la­tions. The flights are ex­pected to ar­rive and de­part on time, ac­cord­ing to the Dubai air­port web­site yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

All three de­par­tures from Dubai to Lon­don Heathrow were can­celled yes­ter­day. Both the Bri­tish Air­ways flights that were sched­uled to ar­rive yes­ter­day morn­ing at Dubai In­ter­na­tional were can­celled while the night flight showed a 20-minute de­lay on the air­port web­site in the af­ter­noon. The op­er­a­tor of Dubai In­ter­na­tional Air­port de­clined to com­ment on the pas­sen­ger sit­u­a­tion at the air­port, di­rect­ing in­quiries to BA.

Neil Hall / Reuters

Heathrow Ter­mi­nal 5 yes­ter­day. Many pas­sen­gers who man­aged to travel on Satur­day left with­out their bag­gage.

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