British Airways has cancelled all flights from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports for the rest of the day due to a “global system outage”.
Passengers have faced delays and long waits for what the airline called a “major IT system failure that is causing very severe disruption to our flight operations worldwide”.
BA says there was no evidence of a cyberattack. Chief executive Alex Cruz, in a video posted on Twitter, said a power supply issue was to blame for the computer system failure.
The airlines said delays could continue into Sunday, but most long-haul flights should be able to land as normal in London.
Terminals at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick were “extremely congested”, with travellers urged not to go to the airports.
In a statement, BA said: “Following the major IT system failure experienced earlier today, with regret we have had to cancel all flights leaving from Heathrow and Gatwick for the rest of today.
“The system outage has also affected our call centres and our website but we will update customers as soon as we are able to.
“We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience this is causing our customers during this busy holiday period.”
The move to scrap all flights came at the start of a bank holiday weekend and during half-term school holidays.
Footage showed massive queues as check-ins and baggage systems were down, while planes were being held on runways.
Some said they have been unable to check in using the mobile app, while others said they missed their flights because of the technical problems.
One passenger, David Raine, tweeted: “Still on the tarmac at Leeds. #britishairways reckon Heathrow is so backed up we can’t set off. No way we’ll make our Vegas flight.”
Another one, Henry Tail, wrote: “Hey @British_Airways, couldn’t log in to the app with my boarding pass on because systems were down and I missed my flight. What can I do?”
Mr Tail, who had been booked on a flight to Rome, told Press Association: “I checked in online using the BA app at 8.15 for my flight at 9.25, then went and had breakfast.
“At some point the app restarted and when I went to go through security I couldn’t log in to my booking to get my QR code.
“This meant I couldn’t go through security, and by the time I’d gone back and forth to various customer service desks the flight had closed,” he said.
“I’ve tried to call customer services but their systems are still down so they weren’t able to help me, and they told me it was a worldwide issue.”
Passenger Roshni Burt, who was flying from Heathrow Terminal Five to Bahrain with her young son, tweeted there was “chaos” and she was “shocked at the lack of security”.
She told Sky News that she has been at the airport since 8.30am.
“It gradually got busier and busier.
“When we left the check-in area there were lots of angry people, people getting frustrated that their flights were coming up or near to departure, people getting turned away.”
She added: “They can’t tell us when we’re going to be leaving.”
The airline has experienced problems with its online check-in systems in the past.
The GMB union said the disruption could have been avoided if the airline had not cut “hundreds of dedicated and loyal” IT staff and outsourced the jobs to India.
Mick Rix, national officer for aviation at the GMB, said: “We can only feel genuinely sorry for the tens of thousands of passengers who are stranded at airports and face having their travel plans and holidays ruined.
“This could all have been avoided.”
The airline could face a huge compensation bill after thousands of passengers were left stranded by the IT crash.
Travellers are able to claim compensation under EU law unless the disruption has been caused by factors outside of BA’s control.
(c) Sky News 2017: BA cancels all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick due to global outage