British Airways cancels wave of long-haul flights to Heathrow after 'technical issue'

British Airways has cancelled dozens of flights into London's Heathrow. Credit: PA Images

British Airways passengers face travel misery in the run-up to Christmas after the airline axed a wave of long-haul flights to London's Heathrow.

BA said its operations were hit by a technical issue - triggering dozens of flight cancellations - which has since been resolved.

Since Monday night at least 18 flights to and from Heathrow have been cancelled, affecting routes serving the US and Canada.

There are also long delays to a number of other flights serving Heathrow and Gatwick.

They include arrivals from the Mexican resort of Cancun and the US city of Philadelphia, which are expected to land more than five hours behind schedule.

Model and actress Liz Hurley is among thousands of passengers booked to fly home for Christmas who were left grounded by the disruption.

The English actress, who starred in Austin Powers, was due to fly home from Antigua in the Caribbean but her flight was severely delayed.

In a message to BA’s Twitter account at 7.47am GMT, she wrote: "Stranded at Antigua airport with no food or water, taxis or hotels offered yet. Plane delayed 20 hours."

An hour later, she added: "Still stranded – no food, water or hotel. Pretty dodgy service."

The latest IT crash for BA came to light when passengers due to depart the USA reported widespread delays and a lack of information from BA staff on the ground.

Some customers said they had been held up for hours.

Others said they had been sitting on planes parked on runways, before being moved back to the airport.

British Airways said the delays and cancellations were a result of a "technical issue".

In a statement, the airline said: "Our teams have now resolved a temporary issue that affected some of our long-haul flight planning systems overnight, which resulted in delays to our schedule.

"We’re sorry for the disruption caused to our customers’ travel plans."

British Airways said the problem related to a single piece of software, and was not a repeat of IT outages which have repeatedly hit its operations in recent years.

It said the issue did not have an impact on safety, did not affect aircraft already in the air and was limited to long-haul flights.

There were already concerns about disruption to Christmas flights due to a strike by Border Force workers.

About 1,000 Border Force staff who are members of the Public and Commercial Services union at Heathrow, Birmingham, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester airports will strike every day from Friday to the end of the year, except December 27.

The action is part of a bitter dispute over pay, pensions and jobs.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have reportedly stopped selling new tickets for flights arriving at Heathrow on strike days, to ease the pressure at the airport.

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