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British Airways Resumes Flights from Gatwick, Heathrow after IT Crash | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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People wait with their luggage at Heathrow Terminal 5 in London, Britain May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

British Airways resumed some flights from Britain’s two biggest airports on Sunday after a global IT crash crippled the airline, grounding planes and leaving thousands of passengers stranded and queuing for hours.

BA said it aimed to operate a near normal schedule of flights from Gatwick airport and the majority of flights from Heathrow on Sunday.

“We are continuing to work hard to restore all of our IT systems and are aiming to operate a near normal schedule at Gatwick and the majority of services from Heathrow on Sunday,” BA said in a statement.

“We are extremely sorry for the huge disruption caused to customers.”

The airline said its engineers were “continuing to work hard” to restore its services and hoped most UK flights would resume on Sunday.

However experts predict the disruption could continue for several days.

British Airways cancelled all its flights from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday after a power supply problem disrupted its flight operations worldwide. The entire airline’s check-in and operational systems were affected by the issue, including its customer service phone lines and rebooking function. The incident had a knock-on effect on BA’s operations around the world.

Alex Cruz, the chairman and chief executive of BA, part of Europe’s largest airline group IAG, said there was no evidence of any cyber attack. He said a power supply issue was to blame.

Thousands of passengers were left queuing for hours in departure halls at the airports on a particularly busy weekend. There is a public holiday on Monday and many children were starting their school half-term breaks.

Terminals at Heathrow and Gatwick became jammed with angry passengers, with confused BA staff unable to help as they had no access to their computers, according to passengers interviewed by Reuters.

“We are refunding or rebooking customers who suffered cancellations on to new services as quickly as possible,” BA said, adding that it had introduced more flexible rebooking policies for passengers affected.

London’s Heathrow Airport said it expected further delays and cancellations of BA flights on Sunday and told passengers not to travel to the airport unless they were rebooked on other flights.

“Following a worldwide British Airways’ IT system issue yesterday, delays and cancellations of British Airways flights are expected today,” Heathrow said in a statement on Sunday.

“All passengers whose flights were cancelled yesterday should not travel to the airport today unless they have already rebooked onto another flight,” the airport said.

While other airlines have been hit by computer problems, the scale and length of BA’s computer problems were unusual.

Delta Air Lines Inc cancelled hundreds of flights and delayed many others last August after an outage hits its computer systems.

Last month, Germany’s Lufthansa and Air France suffered a global system outage which briefly prevented them from boarding passengers.