A massive IT system failure has led to all British Airways (BA) flights from London’s two biggest airports being canceled. The shutdown “is causing very severe disruption to our flight operations worldwide,” a BA spokesperson told the BBC.
It is currently unknown whether the “global system outage” has come as a result of a hack. Thousands of vacationers have been left stranded on one of the UK’s busiest holiday weekends. Heathrow, Britain’s biggest airport with over six million travelers passing through per month, said it was “working closely” to resolve the problem.
Parts of BA’s website are currently down and the carrier has asked all potential travelers to stay away from Gatwick or Heathrow until further notice. No other airlines have been affected by the issue. Insiders have pointed to a faulty database update carried out last night. But BA has neither confirmed nor denied the rumor.
The news is yet another blow in a tough year for BA. In April the company’s shares plunged by 5%, or $282m, after a string of canceled flights amid security threats.
An IT failure on this scale is sure to spook tech security experts, who are already taking stock after the global WannaCry attack infiltrated some of the world’s largest services–including Britain’s National Health Service.
UPDATE: Flights remain delayed or canceled coming out of Heathrow Airport at 9.46am (UK), 5/29. The airline has apologized for “chaotic” scenes. But BA has remained tight-lipped about the situation, as accusations of IT cost-cutting ruminate among the press. The airline could be liable for a compensation payout of $170m, the largest such amount in history.