Thousands of passengers face delays as British Airways experiences disruption to flights caused by a “technical issue”.
The airline said overnight that a small number of planes were affected by the glitch – the latest in a series of PR headaches for the carrier caused by apparent computer system woes and, latterly, damaging strikes by pilots.
It later confirmed: “Our teams are working hard to resolve a technical issue which is affecting some of our flights, and we have rebooked customers onto alternative flights and offered hotel accommodation where they have been unable to continue their journeys last night.
“We are very sorry for the disruption to their travel plans.”
By mid-morning BA confirmed it planned to operate a full flight schedule on Thursday but admitted: “There may be some knock-on delays to flights and we are advising customers to check ba.com for the latest flight information.”
The airline also asked customers to ensure their contact details were up to date on their bookings, so that “we can provide the latest information” as there was a risk of knock-on delays.
Our teams are working hard to resolve a technical issue which is affecting some of our flights. I’m sorry for the inconvenience the delays have caused you, Nicole. Kimbers
— British Airways (@British_Airways) November 21, 2019
BA was yet to confirm the number of flights affected by, and the reason for, the outage.
But a BA source said staff had been sent a text message saying: “Due to a Flight Planning outage overnight, at point of departure flight crew will receive the flight plan for the departing flight only.”
Tweets to the airline from customers suggested flights to Heathrow and Gatwick from across the US, Asia and Africa were caught up in the chaos.
BA said it was assisting customers whose flights had been cancelled by helping to make alternative arrangements.
But one customer, Robert Cottis-Wells, told Sky News via his Twitter account: “My flight back from Orlando tonight was cancelled 2 hours ago BA2036 ten minutes after their helpline closed.
“Sat here at 2:20am not knowing anything. No one willing to help until 7:30GMT when the line reopens.”
Madeleine Leathley, from Essex, said she had been delayed by 23 hours at Kansai Airport in Osaka, Japan.
She told Sky News: “We’re currently being bussed 90 minutes to a hotel in Nara from Osaka airport. We’ve been told to take headphones from seats and bring them back as nothing in the plane will be replaced.
“They’re only providing Japanese style hotel rooms – sleeping on futons. Some older passengers are very upset. We’re now meant to take off at 11.30am tomorrow. We’ll be bussed back at 5.30am.”
The glitch follows a torrid summer for the airline which saw an IT glitch in August lead to hundreds of flights being either delayed or cancelled.
In September, the airline was forced to cancel almost all its flights over two days as pilots walked out in a dispute over pay.
The airline’s parent firm, IAG, later issued a profit warning on the back of the costly strike action.
Its shares, down 11% in the year to date, were trading almost 1% lower on the FTSE 100 on Thursday morning.