Ground Stops Due to Computer Information System Problems-Case Study

Computer System Faults in the Aviation Industry

Computer system faults are extremely expensive in terms of money that will not be generated at the moment. When computer problems cause a ground halt in the aviation business, immediate action is required. Otherwise, customers and other stakeholders may face numerous problems.

The British Airways Incident

British Airways' computer systems crashed, rendering its planes inoperable for several hours. The check-in and operations systems failed, leaving travelers with no choice but to wait until the problem was rectified. All flights from Heathrow and Gatwick were called off, and a spokesperson for the airline confirmed that there was a problem with IT systems earlier that day (British Airways flights disrupted worldwide due to system failure, 2017). When passengers tried to use self-service check-in machines, they were met with error messages saying the machines were temporarily out of service. And regardless of earlier reports given, the airline management denied the allegations that it was under cyber attacks and claimed the disruption was most probably a power supply issue.

Causes of the Halt

The halt was as a result of the frenzied return of power that damaged the servers at the data center. Also, the baggage handling system also broke down resulting in approximately three thousand bags being loaded into wrong places. The basis of primary power loss was not determined, but the airline embarked on an investigation to find out the situation and prevent it from reoccurring again (British Airways flights disrupted worldwide due to system failure, 2017). Though, there were claims by the GMB union that the problem was with BA since it had laid off some of its most dedicated and loyal IT staffs who could have prevented the incident.

The Impact on Passengers

There was a huge crowd in the terminals as planes were stuck on the runways with passengers in them. The delays caused restlessness among people who had to wait for hours and others missing their flights especially those that had not checked-in online. Given that there was no enough space to sit on, many people were forced to lie on the floor or sleep on yoga mats (Reporters, 2017). And for those compelled to wait overnight were provided with mats together with small blankets. The situation caused long queues for checking in, rebooking and finding the lost luggage. The full operations were resumed after four days.

Financial Consequences

According to the EU-supported compensation regulations, British Airline would incur more than hundred million pounds to cater for the consequences of the breakdown. In a day it carries 120,000 passengers showing a cost of 50 million pounds for delays exceeding three hours. Passengers that missed their flights due to the delays were entitled to meals and accommodation while others were expected to go for refunds. On the other hand, some would lose trust with the company as a result (Reporters, 2017). Moreover, it was likely for the airline to continue facing substantial financial effects given that it would take days to fix the problem completely. British Airways largest shareholder, IAG witnessed a reduction in their first shares by approximately 4% after the outage was resolved.

Resolution and Recovery

The Airline was expecting prolonged disruption and advised the customers scheduled for later flights to rebook for dates extending to November this year, in as much as their flights would be operating. Glitches are still with the airline's IT systems, comprising of the customer call centers, website, and operations planning structure (Reporters, 2017). Moreso, it will take some time for BA to put planes and staff appropriately. The airline also said it would respect all the compensation regulations provided by the EU, such like covering hotel accommodation expenses, transportation to and from hotels, food and communication. More staff members were added to the department of customer relations, so as to help with processing payments (Reporters, 2017). Also, all the bags that were delayed had been dealt with at Heathrow and were sent to clients in different places around the world though; the whole operation would take some time to complete.

Press Release 1

“I understand the shutdown was not what you unexpected to find. You have been forced to endure very unpleasant experiences. On behalf of British Airways as a whole, I apologize for the ordeal you had to undergo (British Airways CEO apologizes as major IT failure leads to grounded flights in London, 2017). We trust the issue was due to a power supply and not cyber attack as was speculated. Please be patient as we work to settle the situation as quickly as possible, and flights will be resumed. Thank you."

Press Release 2

“We pledge to respect all the pertinent EU compensation regulations such paying for hotel accommodation, transport to and from hotels, food as well as catering for telephone calls. We have put additional staff members to the department of customer relations to help in processing payments (British Airways CEO apologizes as major IT failure leads to grounded flights in London, 2017). Also, all of the delayed luggage had been handled at Heathrow and will be on their way to clients in different parts of the world, but it will be a long process, again we request for your patience. Thank you so much.”


British Airways cancels ALL flights from Heathrow and Gatwick until 6 pm after IT systems go down across the world and cause chaos for British holidaymakers. (2017). The Sun. Retrieved 15 June 2017, from

British Airways CEO apologizes as 'major IT failure' leads to grounded flights in London. (2017). CNBC. Retrieved 15 June 2017, from

British Airways flights disrupted worldwide due to 'system failure.' (2017). The Verge. Retrieved 15 June 2017, from

Reporters, T. (2017). British Airways chaos: All flights canceled at Heathrow and Gatwick after global computer failure. The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 June 2017, from

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