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Holiday hell as hundreds of BA flights are grounded

Stranded: Passengers wait in the departure lounge at Heathrow after cancellations PICTURE: EPA

BRITISH AIRWAYS was branded a ‘complete catastrophe’ yesterday after cancelling the flights of 20,000 passengers following an IT meltdown.

The airline was facing a compensation bill of more than £8million after two system failures grounded aircraft.

The chaos unfolded just days after BA cancelled dozens of flights at Heathrow at short notice ahead of a strike by airport workers that never materialised.

Meltdown: Flight boards show chaos PICTURE: BA

‘First there were the strikes the other day, which I thought we’d been lucky to avoid, but then you get this,’ said Jon Rapoport, 54, whose family trip to Lanzarote got no farther than Gatwick.

Passengers arriving at London airports for European destinations were told to go home as 127 flights were cancelled and more than 300 delayed. The disruption was concentrated on short-haul departures from Heathrow and Gatwick but spread to arrivals from across the world.

‘No one can tell us anything,’ tweeted Laura Izzard at Heathrow who was going to Pisa. ‘Little stressed at the moment, as I am flying over to get married.’

Alex Brayson and his partner had their entire wedding party with them as they idled on the Tarmac at Newcastle Airport ahead of their trip to Slovenia. ‘We’ve got 25 of us flying to the wedding so we are growing anxious,’ he told BBC.

The breakdown was discovered at 4.30am yesterday, hitting check-in and flight departures systems. ‘This apparent BA systems failure is another kick in the teeth for travellers,’ said Naomi Leach of Which? Travel.

The airline restored its systems shortly after 4pm. It apologised to customers but warned of ‘knock-on operational disruption’. In 2017, a power outage caused the cancellation of 670 flights.