A workers’ union has blamed outsourcing to India for the cancellation of more than a third of British Airways (BA) flights from London’s Heathrow Airport. The GMB union said the “meltdown” could have been avoided if BA hadn’t made hundreds of IT staff redundant and outsourced their jobs to India at the end of last year. “This could have all been avoided. In 2016 BA made hundreds of dedicated and loyal IT staff redundant and outsourced the work to India,” said Mick Rix, national officer for aviation at GMB.
The airline, however, has denied the workers’ union claim. “We would never compromise the integrity and security of our IT systems,” BA said in reference to GMB union’s claim. BA chief executive Alex Cruz had said it was believed “the root cause [of the computer problems] was a power supply issue”.
Thousands of passengers, including hundreds that were left stranded, were affected as more than 1,000 flights were affected due to a major global computer systems failure. The IT failure affected check-in and operational systems, including customer service phone lines. Customers have been advised to continue checking the status of their flight on the airline’s website www.ba.com before leaving for the airport.
Delays were also reported in Rome, Prague, Milan, Stockholm and Malaga due to the system failure, which coincided with a bank holiday weekend and the start of the half-term holiday for many people in the UK.
“We are continuing to work hard to restore all of our IT systems. We are extremely sorry for the huge disruption caused to customers throughout Saturday and understand how frustrating their experiences will have been. We are refunding or re-booking 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,” a BA spokesperson said.
BA said although some of its IT systems were back on line, “there will be some knock-on disruption to our schedules as aircraft and crews are out of position around the world”. The airline also said that most long-haul flights due to land in London on Sunday were expected to arrive as normal.