Grounded... for 24 hours

Thou­sands hit by another BA melt­down

Scottish Daily Mail - - Little John - By Tom Payne and Xan­tha Leatham

THOU­SANDS of Bri­tish Air­ways pas­sen­gers suf­fered de­lays of up to 24 hours yes­ter­day af­ter the air­line’s com­puter sys­tems went into melt­down.

Dozens of planes were grounded in the chaos, said to have been trig­gered by a glitch in BA’s global flight plan­ning sys­tems.

It is the lat­est in a se­ries of dis­as­trous com­puter fail­ures at the air­line and it could now face another multi-mil­lion pound com­pen­sa­tion bill.

The air­line has also had to deal with the fall­out from in­dus­trial ac­tion by pi­lots over the sum­mer.

The lat­est fi­asco be­gan on Wed­nes­day evening when pi­lots found they were un­able to file flight plans, which in­form air traf­fic con­trollers of in­tended cour­ses.

The out­age led to crip­pling de­lays while pi­lots man­u­ally plot­ted their course on old-fash­ioned charts be­fore back-up sys­tems kicked in.

In the worst case, two flights from Can­cun, Mex­ico, and Kingston, Ja­maica, ar­rived into Gatwick almost 24 hours late.

A flight from Pitts­burgh was also de­layed, land­ing at Heathrow more than 12 hours be­hind sched­ule.

The de­lays meant a small num­ber of out­bound flights had to be can­celled, in­clud­ing a flight from Gatwick to Or­lando.

Pas­sen­gers com­plained of being left in the dark over the cause of the out­age. Some said they weren’t in­formed of prob­lems un­til af­ter they had checked in.

Last night BA re­fused to con­firm the cause of the com­puter crash. How­ever, a num­ber of pas­sen­gers were told it had been caused by a glitch in BA’s nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems.

One pas­sen­ger on a flight from Los An­ge­les to Lon­don said: ‘The woman I spoke to said the flight­plan gen­er­a­tor had crashed.

‘It seem­ingly means pi­lots can­not get jour­ney de­tails and are left stranded. We should have taken off ages ago. It’s chaos.’

Another pas­sen­ger af­fected was Jess Gale, whose flight from Bos­ton was de­layed by over two hours.

The 25-year-old, who trav­elled to Lon­don for a ro­man­tic get­away with her boyfriend, said: ‘I was sup­posed to leave at 9.30pm and it was de­layed by over two hours. At the time they said that the plane com­ing in was de­layed.

‘But once we got on the plane the pi­lot said the whole Bri­tish Air­ways sys­tem was down and they had to do all the pa­per­work man­u­ally.

‘If I needed to get here on time I’d think twice about fly­ing Bri­tish Air­ways again.’

The air­line is fac­ing huge com­pen­sa­tion bills for yes­ter­day’s dis­rup­tion. Con­sumer group Which? said BA could fall foul of EU rules re­quir­ing them to pay up to €600 (£513) for de­lays that are within the air­line’s con­trol.

Which? travel ed­i­tor Rory Boland said: ‘This is the lat­est in a long line of Bri­tish Air­ways tech­ni­cal glitches caus­ing de­lays and can­cel­la­tions and yet again it’s thou­sands of pas­sen­gers who are pay­ing the price – left tired, frus­trated and with a lack of in­for­ma­tion and as­sis­tance from the air­line.’

BA in­stalled a ‘cost-ef­fec­tive’ IT sys­tem in 2015, but it has re­peat­edly crashed, cost­ing the com­pany more than £100mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion to pas­sen­gers. In Au­gust, a melt­down in the air­line’s check-in sys­tems caused 12 hours of chaos and left 20,000 pas­sen­gers stranded.

The air­line is also fac­ing a record £183mil­lion fine af­ter hack­ers stole the per­sonal de­tails of up to half a mil­lion pas­sen­gers last year. BA last night ad­vised cus­tomers to check for pos­si­ble de­lays on but said it planned to op­er­ate a full sched­ule today.

The air­line con­firmed that 45 in­bound flights were de­layed yes­ter­day. The num­ber of can­cel­la­tions was in the sin­gle fig­ures.

‘Should have taken off ages ago’

Chaos: One BA pas­sen­ger cap­tured the scene at Can­cun Air­port

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