British Airways on Saturday cancelled most flights out of London’s Heathrow, Gatwick airports as a computer system broke down, causing chaos for travellers at the start of a three-day weekend in the UK. “We have experienced a major IT system failure that is causing very severe disruption to our flight operations worldwide,” the airline said in a statement, without specifying what caused the outage or how long it will take to fix.
“We are working to resolve the problem as quickly as possible,” the carrier said.
Heathrow Airport said it was “working closely” with British Airways to solve the issue. It is not known how many flights have been affected but passengers have reported issues with flights to and from Heathrow, Gatwick and Belfast.
British Airways aircraft landing at Heathrow are unable to park up as outbound aircraft cannot vacate the gates, which has resulted in passengers being stuck on aircraft.
Other airlines flying in and out of Heathrow and Gatwick are unaffected.
Travellers took to Twitter starting late morning in Europe to complain of flight postponements, long lines to check in and waiting for long periods on the tarmac after boarding planes. Last September, a computer network failure brought down British Airways’ check-in system, causing worldwide service delays, while earlier this week, London Gatwick airport reported problems with its baggage-sorting system.
The disruption coincides with the start of the annual end-of-May bank holiday weekend in the UK, as well as the three-day Memorial Day weekend in the US.
British Airways is a unit of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA. No widespread delays were reported at the company’s Spanish division Iberia or at Irish brand Aer Lingus. Heathrow has advised passengers to check the status of their flights before travelling to the airport.
Around the world planes were grounded and passengers stuck either in terminal buildings or on planes themselves, as a shortage of available gates meant incoming passengers had no opportunity to disembark, The Telegraph reported.