Bank holiday chaos as British Airways cancels more than 150 flights

Some Friday departures to Athens, Warsaw and Reykjavik have been grounded as BA struggles to recover its operation

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 26 May 2023 09:08 BST
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Related: British Airways System Outage Sparks Chaos At Heathrow Airport

British Airways has cancelled dozens more flights following an IT failure on Thursday, what was supposed to be the busiest day for aviation since 2019.

The Independent calculates that at least 156 flights, mainly domestic and European, have been cancelled on Thursday and Friday as BA struggles to operate without essential systems.

In addition, 14 flights were delayed overnight and are expected to arrive during the late morning after delays of 12-16 hours.

With many planes fully booked at the start of the bank holiday weekend, the number of passengers affected is likely to top 25,000 – with many more seriously delayed and/or encountering missed connections.

Fifty-five outbound short-haul flights were grounded on Thursday afternoon and evening, with 21 inbound trips also grounded on Thursday.

Friday morning sees 36 inbound flights cancelled as a result of planes and pilots being in the wrong places on Thursday night. In addition, British Airways has grounded a fresh wave of 46 Friday flights, including to and from Athens, Warsaw, Reykjavik and Tirana.

A British Airways spokesperson said: “While the vast majority of our flights continue to operate today, we have cancelled some of our short-haul flights from Heathrow due to the knock-on effect of a technical issue that we experienced yesterday.

“We’ve apologised to customers whose flights have been affected and offered them the option to rebook to an alternative flight with us or another carrier or request a refund.”

The airline is telling passengers: “We’re aware of a technical issue, which we have been working hard to fix.

“Due to high call volumes please only contact us if you’re due to travel in the next 48 hours.”

Many of the cancellations are to and from destinations with multiple frequencies, such as Dublin, Nice and Paris CDG, or serve domestic airports such a Manchester and Edinburgh where rail alternatives are available

But the scale of the cancellations – including a dozen to and from the Scottish capital – means many passengers may be unable to travel.

BA must buy tickets on rival airlines for disrupted passengers to get them to their destinations on the same day as originally booked, if space is available. But at the start of the half-term week for many schools and the bank holiday weekend, few spare seats are available.

British Airways will also face millions of pounds in claims for compensation from dirsupted passengers.

The widespread cancellations have eased the impact of the strike by over 1,000 security staff at Heathrow Terminal 5, the main BA base. Workers belonging to the Unite union are on the second day of a walk-out in a dispute over pay. No problems are reported for passengers.

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