BA counts cost of IRA hoax

Bob Ayling, chief executive of British Airways, yesterday told of the huge cost of Monday's IRA bomb hoax which closed down Gatwick airport for most of the day, causing misery to thousands of passengers, writes Michael Harrison.

BA was forced to cancel more than 100 services, leaving 30,000 passengers marooned as it put its crisis management plan into operation.

Only two pilots and 20 cabin crew were able to battle their way through the traffic chaos to report for duty and by early afternoon 51 services had already been cancelled.

With chaos reigning in the terminals and BA flights around the world instructed to remain on the tarmac, the airline began booking up hotel rooms across south-east England for stranded priority passengers.

A total of 14 aircraft were in the air at the time of the alert and were diverted as far afield as Bournemouth, Southampton and Cardiff.

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