British Airways hit by ‘unquantifiable cost’ of IT failure

Under EU flight delay rules, they can claim compensation of between €250 (Dh1,026) and €600, depending on the length of the delay.

Passengers wait with their luggage at the British Airways check-in desks at Heathrow airport in London. Neil Hall / Reuetrs
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The cost to British Airways from the disruption to its flights from London’s two main hubs as a result of an IT disruption since Saturday is expected to be significant, according to analysts.

All BA flights were cancelled on Saturday at Heathrow and Gatwick airports, affecting thousands of passengers. Many who managed to travel had to depart without their baggage. Flights were again affected on Sunday, with a third out of Heathrow cancelled.

The knock-on effects of the major IT failure are expected to continue to disrupt flights today.

“It’s not possible to quantify the cost of this IT failure at this time, but given the scale of British Airways’ operation and the number of customers affected, it will be significant,” said John Strickland, an aviation analyst at the London-based JLS ­Consulting.

Compensation to passengers could add up quickly. Under European Union flight-delay rules, they can claim compensation of between €250 (Dh1,026) and €600, depending on the length of the delay.

The airline must also pay for hotel stays if there is an overnight delay as well as transport to and from the airport and meals.

“As long as British Airways struggles to get passengers in the air to their destinations, this could end up costing the airline millions of pounds quite quickly,” said Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research.

The airline is rebooking passengers or refunding them.

"We have also introduced more flexible rebooking policies for anyone due to travel on Sunday and Monday [and] who no longer wishes to fly to and from Heathrow or Gatwick," a BA spokeswoman told The National.

“Work continues to restore all of our IT systems but we expect some further disruption,” she said. “We are aiming to operate the majority of services from Heathrow and a near normal schedule at Gatwick.”

On Saturday, Emirates was able to take on some of passengers who were stranded.

"We did take some of their passengers on our flights out of our London gateways and I'm sure other airlines did as well and that's a regular industry practice to help affected passengers," an Emirates spokeswoman told The National.

Both of today’s BA flights to London Heathrow out of Dubai are almost full, according to the ticketing office of Al Rais Travel, as there were no cancellations. The flights are expected to arrive and depart on time, according to the Dubai airport website on Sunday afternoon.

All the three departures from Dubai to London Heathrow were cancelled on Sunday.

Both the British Airways flights that were scheduled to arrive on Sunday morning at Dubai International were cancelled while the night flight showed a 20-minute delay on the airport website in the afternoon. The operator of Dubai International Airport declined to comment on the passenger situation at the airport, directing inquiries to BA.

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