British Airways cancelled nearly 100 flights on Wednesday after a serious IT malfunction led to a global outage of the carrier’s flight dispatch computer system. By late afternoon, the embattled airline had managed to get the system back up and running but it was too late to save many short-haul flights with thousands of passengers yet again left stranded by BA.
The computer hitch is believed to have been connected to an important system that works out the weight and balance of aircraft. Without this information, pilots cannot safely depart.
When the computer system went down, passengers on some flights were left to wait onboard idled planes for hours as systems engineers scrambled to resolve the issue. The airline quickly issued a global ground stop and prevented any further passengers boarding planes as the problem dragged on.
Only last month was British Airways hit by another major IT outage which resulted in the Heathrow-based carrier cancelling its entire short-haul operation for an entire day. The problem may not be as bad this time around but BA has already cancelled nearly 100 flights are more cancellations are expected.
Chief executive Sean Doyle admitted in an internal staff memo last week that customers and staff were “rightly fed up” with BA’s performance over the last few months. As well as IT failures, passenger’s have faced disruption and disappointment due to major staff shortages.
But Doyle went on to seemingly dismiss that frustration by claiming every other airline was experiencing similar issues because travel demand has bounced back with the ending of COVID-19 restrictions.
British Airways has already slashed its planned schedule through the end of May in the hope of avoiding any further operational meltdowns. The airline is desperately trying to recruit enough staff to service demand but is struggling to attract applications after forcing thousands of employees out of the business at the height of the pandemic.
The airline outsourced its IT department to India in 2016 and a year later suffered a massive outage that stranded 75,000 passengers and cost BA an estimated £80 million. A year later, the airline revealed its reservations system had been hacked with the personal details of hundreds of thousands of customers and staff stolen by hackers.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.