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British Airways cancel ALL flights due to global system outage

Tanveer Mann for Metro.co.ukSaturday 27 May 2017 1:24 pm

British Airways cancel ALL flights due to global system outage
The airline is advising people not to come to Heathrow or Gatwick airport (Picture: FlyNet pictures)

British Airways has cancelled all flights until 6pm today and are advising people not to come to the airports. 

pri_41407968.jpg?crop=195px%2C0px%2C841px%2C630px&resize=150%2C113&quality=80&strip=all&ssl=1&w=100&h=75Hundreds of bags left ‘unattended’ as British Airways experience global system crash

Hundreds of passengers are currently stuck in ‘huge’ check-in lines while others remain grounded on planes after the airline’s global computer system went down this morning.

Several passengers have reported that the captain and gate staff at Gatwick Airport said the airline could be under a cyber attack but BA have said there is no evidence of this.

People are now being advised not to come to the airports as all flights will remain suspended due to congestion.

British Airways cancel ALL flights due to global system outage
Hundreds of fliers are currently stuck in ‘huge’ check-in lines (Picture: FlyNet pictures)

A spokesman for British Airways told Metro.co.uk: ‘We have experienced a major IT system failure that is causing very severe disruption to our flight operations worldwide.

‘The terminals at Heathrow and Gatwick have become extremely congested and we have cancelled all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick before 6pm UK time today, so please do not come to the airports.

British Airways cancel ALL flights due to global system outage
(Picture: PA)
British Airways cancel ALL flights due to global system outage
(Picture: PA)

‘We will provide more information on ba.com, Twitter and through airport communication channels as soon as we can for flights due to depart after that time.We will be updating the situation via the media regularly throughout the day.

‘We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience this is causing our customers and we are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/05/27/british-airways-cancels-all-flights-due-to-global-system-outage-6666200/#ixzz4iHlgtFFa

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Five questions for BA over IT crash

By Bill Wilson Business reporter, BBC News

How can this have happened?

BA says that: "The root cause was a power supply issue which our affected our IT systems - we continue to investigate this."

The airline said it could not add anything further at this stage, but it is understood that all systems are not fully up and running yet.

John Strickland, air transport expert and director at JLS Consulting, says: "The problem has affected multiple parts of the business which are not only customer-facing, but also operational-facing, and without which the airline could not do many tasks, for example completing load sheets [which are needed for fuel calculations] for aircraft."

Was outsourcing IT to India an issue?

The GMB union has suggested the BA computer systems failure was "another example of the shortcomings of BA IT systems since they made a number of staff redundant, and outsourced their work to India in 2016."

Mick Rix, GMB national officer for aviation said: "BA 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".

And BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott said: "Yes, the union has a big axe to grind, but still, people will want to know if BA made its IT systems more vulnerable by scaling back computer support to save money."

Meanwhile aviation expert Mr Strickland, added: "Surely a business should be able to make an outsourcing decision without any problems, if it is done in a quality-controlled way.

"But this issue is part of the analysis that will have to be done by BA."

But the airline says: "We would never compromise the integrity and security of our IT systems. IT services are now provided globally by a range of suppliers and this is very common practice across all industries and the UK government.

"British Airways employs around 35,000 people in the UK providing high skilled and well paid jobs. It hires 1,000 people a year and has a strong apprenticeship programme."

What is BA doing now for passengers?

BA says: "Customers on flights that have been cancelled can claim a full refund or rebook to a future date for travel up until the end of November 2017. Customers are urged to keep any food, transport or accommodation receipts and can make a claim in due course through our Customer Relations teams.Image copyright Getty Images

"We are refunding or rebooking customers who suffered cancellations on to new services as quickly as possible and have also introduced more flexible rebooking policies for anyone due to travel on Sunday and Monday who no longer wishes to fly to/from Heathrow or Gatwick.

"We have provided customers with hotel accommodation.

"The best channel for customers to use to get information about their flight is Manage My Booking on ba.com. This is now updated regularly.

"We have also been using social media to communicate, and airport communication channels. Our CEO video which was posted on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook... has received more than 175,000 views.

"We are extremely sorry for the disruption caused to customers and understand how much frustration this is causing."

Delayed travellers will also be able to claim financial compensation under EU law, unless the disruption has been caused by factors outside the airline's control.

In 2014 two UK Supreme Court judgements stated airlines should have to pay out when a delay was caused by a technical fault.

Has communication been good enough?

BA says: "We have been doing everything possible to provide as much information to customers as possible, but it has been challenging.

"Many of the systems our staff usually use have not been functioning properly which has meant we were slower than usual to give customers accurate information at the airports.

"In addition, unfortunately the systems that we use to send emails and texts to individual customers about their flights have also been affected by the IT problems, so we haven't been able to communicate with customers in our usual ways."Image copyright PA

There had been complaints from passengers on Saturday that they had not been informed their flights were cancelled until after the airline had put out a media statement announcing the decision.

Passenger Terry Page, 28, from London told the Press Association: "There's no such announcement here. The boards are showing go to gate, and no mention of cancellations."

Communications complaints continued at Heathrow on Sunday, with one passenger telling the BBC they had "no idea how much longer we'll be here and we're getting no communication from the staff".

Aviation expert John Strickland was at Heathrow on Saturday to collect a friend flying in from Mexico, and says : "Communications have been a challenge.

"There were BA people there on Saturday doing what they could, but the tools usually at the disposal of staff were not available.

"We are becoming more and more reliant on automation, even in things like communications, and less on actual people. It means it is a challenge for businesses when things go wrong."

Could it happen again? What has BA learned ?

John Strickland says: "They will have to sit down in the cold light of day and analyse the causes and how to eliminate them in future.

"There will need to be in-depth planning in terms of managing any similar potential situation again.

"BA is used to things like bad weather, or air traffic control issues, and other challenges, but this is different. By its very nature they did not have the information available that they would have liked to have had."

But he also added: "This could have happened to any other airline, including a low-cost one."  http://www.bbc.com/news/business-40075721

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Latest Update:

British Airways flight chaos lessens after weekend of disruption

British Airways is working to restore its computer systems after a power failure caused major disruption for thousands of passengers worldwide.

The airline is "closer to full operational capacity" after an IT power cut resulted in mass flight cancellations at Heathrow and Gatwick.

Thousands of passengers remain displaced, with large numbers sleeping overnight in terminals.

BA has not explained the cause of the power problem.

So far on Monday, 13 short-haul flights at Heathrow have been cancelled.

Heathrow advised affected BA passengers not to travel to the airport unless their flights had been rebooked, or were scheduled to take off today.

Passengers on cancelled flights have been told to use the BA website to rebook.

Chief executive Alex Cruz has posted videos on Twitter apologising for what he called a "horrible time for passengers".

But no-one from the airline has been made available to answer questions about the system crash, and it has not explained why there was no back-up system in place.

Cancellations and delays affected thousands of passengers at both Heathrow and Gatwick on Saturday.

All flights operated from Gatwick on Sunday but more than a third of services from Heathrow - mostly to short-haul destinations - were cancelled.

Passengers slept on yoga mats handed out by the airline as conference rooms were opened to provide somewhere more comfortable to rest.

line break

What went wrong at BA?

Rory Cellan-Jones, technology correspondent

BA blames a power cut, but a corporate IT expert said it should not have caused "even a flicker of the lights" in the data-centre.

Even if the power could not be restored, the airline's Disaster Recovery Plan should have whirred into action. But that will have depended in part on veteran staff with knowledge of the complex patchwork of systems built up over the years.

Many of those people may have left when much of the IT operation was outsourced to India.

One theory of the IT expert, who does not wish to be named, is that when the power came back on the systems were unusable because the data was unsynchronised.

In other words the airline was suddenly faced with a mass of conflicting records of passengers, aircraft and baggage movements - all the complex logistics of modern air travel.line break

BA said it operated virtually all scheduled long-haul flights on Sunday, but the knock-on effects of Saturday's disruption resulted in a reduced short-haul programme.

"We apologise again to customers for the frustration and inconvenience they are experiencing and thank them for their continued patience.

Speaking on Sunday evening, he said: "I've bombarded them with about 100 tweets in the last 24 hours. I know that's annoying but there's nothing else I can do.

"We've tried to call them on the numbers they give and all we've got is the same recorded message which then cuts off at the end."

Former Virgin Airlines spokesman Paul Charles said: "What seems remarkable is there was no back-up system kicking in within a few minutes system failing.

"Businesses of this type need systems backing up all the time, and this is what passengers expect."

'Extraordinary circumstances'

BA is liable to reimburse thousands of passengers for refreshments and hotel expenses, and travel industry commentators have suggested the cost to the company - part of Europe's largest airline group IAG - could run into tens of millions of pounds.

Shares in IAG listed on the Madrid stock exchange are currently trading down by about 3%.

Customers displaced by flight cancellations can claim up to £200 a day for a room (based on two people sharing), £50 for transport between the hotel and airport, and £25 a day per adult for meals and refreshments.

Consumer expert Franky Brehany said travellers stranded in a "high-value city" like London may be able to claim more and should keep all receipts.

But he added that it might be harder for passengers to claim compensation, as BA may blame "extraordinary circumstances" - "like an act of God or force majeure" - meaning the airline would only have to reimburse hotel and food costsImage copyright Getty Images

Thousands of bags remain at Heathrow Airport, but BA has advised passengers not to return to collect them, saying they will be couriered to customers.

The airline said there was no evidence the computer failure was the result of a cyber-attack. It denied claims by the GMB union that the problem could be linked to the company outsourcing its IT work.

Gatwick Airport said it was continuing to advise customers travelling with British Airways to check the status of their flight with the airline before travelling to the airport.

EU flight delay rights

  • If your flight departed from within the European Union or was with a European airline, you might have rights under EU law to claim if the delay or cancellation was within the airline's control.
  • Short-haul flights: 250 euros for delays of more than three hours
  • Medium-haul flights: 400 euros for delays of more than three hours
  • Long-haul flights: 300 euros for delays of between three and four hours; and 600 euros for delays of more than four hours
  • If your flight's delayed for two or more hours the airline must offer food and drink, access to phone calls and emails, and accommodation if you're delayed overnight - including transfers between the airport and the hotel.
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Evidently all is back to normal and the question is "What Next".

The bigger questions of British Airway’s IT meltdown

May 29, 2017by Karen Walker in ATW Editor's Blog

As with all disasters, natural or man-made, there comes a time for mopping up, analysis and self- examination. What was learned? How can this be avoided again? That’s where British Airways sits now, as schedules return to normal after the IT meltdown that essentially shut down its London Heathrow and Gatwick operations over the weekend.

The most obvious questions – how did this happen and how to prevent it again? – will be answered eventually. Most critically, BA needs to understand and explain why its backup system also failed after a power surge apparently knocked out the airline’s IT system. What’s the point of a backup if it depends on the same system that underpins the main IT system? If, as BA seems to believe, the IT failure was caused by a power surge, why was the backup system not on a separate grid?

But those will still be the relatively easy questions to address. More challenging will be how much damage has this done to BA’s reputation?

The timing for such a public fiasco could hardly have been worse. A UK holiday weekend when thousands of people who were anticipating a break, perhaps lying on a sunbed, instead ended up lying miserable on an airport floor. And all those images of frustrated, stranded passengers, horrific queues and piles of bags come as the US airlines are under a fierce spotlight for their customer service disasters. For many fliers and lawmakers, the BA meltdown will only confirm their belief that airlines will only give proper customer service when they are compelled to by regulation.

Yes, it’s important to note that BA’s IT failure did not cross any safety barriers. No aircraft or human was put in danger. But really, in 2017, what credibility does an airline have if all it can say that is it will get you to your destination in one piece? Safety is a given in this industry, which is as it should be. But this is also a service industry. Whatever your customer service promise, you had better deliver on it or get into the utilities business.

BA’s IT failure, coupled with what seems to have been a related difficulty in communicating to affected passengers timely information on the situation and their options, will lead most passengers to believe the one thing they have going for them is the European Union’s consumer compensation rules. For good reason, airlines have concerns about these rules and the pressure they put on carriers. But an incident like the BA failure means the EU rules will likely stay firm – perhaps even be bolstered and be copied by US lawmakers who are questioning customer service practices of American carriers.

BA is mopping up. But the consequences of its highly-visible failure could be less easy to sweep away.

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They say power surge, the electrical companies didn't record any.  Hmmmmm

British Airways boss Alex Cruz explains what went wrong in catastrophic IT meltdown

The Evening Standard

Delays: Thousands of people were hit by the IT meltdown. Jeremy Selwyn

The boss of British Airways has explained what went wrong in the catastrophic IT meltdown which caused chaos for thousands of passengers.

Technology website The Register has pieced together statements by the BA chief to build a picture of what was to blame for the messaging system shutdown over the Bank Holiday weekend.

According to statements given to various media outlets, the IT problems were caused by a power surge on Saturday morning at around 9.30am.

BA CEO Alex Cruz said the surge had a “catastrophic effect” on some communication hardware which affected messaging across the airline’s system

He said tens of millions of messages every day are shared across the BA network's 200 systems and all systems were affected.

The BA chief then said the airline was then “unable to restore and use some of those backup systems because they themselves could not trust the messaging that had to take place amongst them”.

He said neither an outsourcing of jobs or a cyber attack were the source of the problem and everyone working with this particular hardware were "locally hired".

Mr Cruz has not said who he believes was responsible for the failure or whether BA employees were involved. 

On Tuesday experts questioned the BA chief's statement about a power surge with some electricity companies reporting no issues on their network.

BA flights were brought to a standstill at Heathrow and Gatwick on Saturday with 75,000 people affected by three days of disruption - the worst to hit the airline for seven years.

The GMB union had claimed the airline could have prevented the failure if they had not cut hundreds of IT jobs, but BA denied this was the case.

Experts suggest BA’s huge compensation costs could top £100 million in the IT failure and shares in International Airlines Group slumped.

BA apologised "profusely" for the problems.

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And now comes a 4 day strike....... 

British Airways cabin crew to stage four-day strike over pay dispute

Georgia Diebelius
Georgia Diebelius for Metro.co.ukFriday 2 Jun 2017 5:08 pm

British Airways cabin crew are set to host a four-day strike later this month, it has been revealed.

Staff will walk out for 96 hours on June 16 in a long-running dispute over pay.The cabin crew have taken several days of industrial action in a campaign over the pay of staff in the so called mixed fleet, who joined the airline in recent years.

An offer aimed at resolving the dispute was narrowly rejected last week.

A BA spokeswoman said: ‘As on the previous dates when Unite called strikes of mixed fleet cabin crew, we will fly all our customers to their destinations.

‘Strike action is completely unnecessary. We had reached a deal on pay, which Unite’s national officers agreed was acceptable. We urge Unite to put the pay proposals to a vote of their members.’The announcement adds to the problems currently facing BA following a computer failure last weekend grounded flights.

Although the outage only lasted just 15 minutes, it brought the website down so people couldn’t check in, planes were grounded and baggage systems broke down.
Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/06/02/british-airways-cabin-crew-to-stage-four-day-strike-over-pay-dispute-6680879/#ixzz4iroUHsS2

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