Over the weekend, all British Airlines flights from Heathrow and Gatwick were grounded due to an IT issue. Over 1,000 flights were affected by what appears to have been a power supply issue, with no evidence of a cyber-attack being reported by the airline. British Airlines is facing a potential bill of £100m in the form of passenger compensation, additional customer care, and damaged reputation / lost business following the IT failure.
According to Mick Rix, the GMB national aviation officer, British Airlines could have avoided this easily: “BA in 2016 made hundreds of dedicated and loyal IT staff redundant and outsourced the work to India. BA have made substantial profits in for a number of years, and many viewed the company’s actions as just plain greedy.”
British Airlines handles about 120,000 passengers a day in and out of Gatwick and Heathrow, so conditions quickly became chaotic. Chloe Thomas, Welsh international table tennis pro, was unable to fly to Germany for the World Table Tennis Championship; she described the scene as follows: “It’s chaos, people are running about all over the place trying to rebook. There’s no one to help, no leadership. There are lots of people everywhere. There’s nowhere to sit, so people are just lying on the floor, sleeping on yoga mats.”
BA was unable to respond to queries about the financial impact or the number of flights cancelled on Sunday but a spokesman said: “We would never compromise the integrity and security of our IT systems.”