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British Airways cancels dozens of Heathrow flights after IT problem

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There has been a second day of disruption for travellers at Heathrow after British Airways cancelled dozens more short-haul flights following Thursday's IT problems.

BA said cancellations were still happening due to the "knock-on effect of a technical issue" resulting in staff being in the wrong location.

A total of 175 flights have been axed, affecting more than 20,000 passengers.

It comes on the busiest day for UK air travel since 2019.

According to data firm Cirium, 83 BA flights, or around 8% of its planned Friday services, were cancelled.

This followed the cancellation of 92 flights on Thursday, out of 860 that were scheduled.

Most of the cancellations are for European and domestic flights, but there have also been delays to other services, while some passengers have been unable to check in online.

Meanwhile, traffic has started building up in Dover as delays are expected on roads and ports over the bank holiday and school half-term break.

On Thursday, BA apologised for the cancellations, saying it was related to "technical problems" causing difficulties with online check-in.

In a statement on Friday the company said: "While the vast majority of our flights continue to operate today, we have cancelled some of our short-haul flights from Heathrow due to the knock-on effect of a technical issue that we experienced yesterday."

Those affected have been offered the option to rebook an alternative flight or request a refund, BA added.

The BBC understands that the technical issue has been resolved and should not affect flights on Saturday.

Data firm Cirium said Friday was expected to see the most departures from UK airports since before the Covid pandemic, with more than 3,000 flights planned.

This is partly down to families heading on holiday for the half-term break.

Gavin Lanoe, 43, from Guernsey, was stuck at Heathrow on Thursday afternoon.

"We were told to go to the flight cancellations desk to get assistance but there were thousands of people there and a few staff, most of the desks were empty," he told BBC News.

Eventually he said BA staff told them they could not rebook as their systems were still down and instructed passengers to leave, pay for their own hotels and claim back up to £200.

Mr Lanoe then booked a ticket on another airline from Gatwick. He said BA told him they would send his luggage to Gatwick but this morning he discovered his bag was still at Heathrow.

"They've had enough IT failures now and they should be more practiced at dealing with them but they are not," he said.

The issues started as security guards at Heathrow Airport belonging to the Unite union began a three-day strike over pay. The airport has said operations will not be affected.

BA has been hit by other IT problems in recent years including a major breakdown in 2017 that stranded 75,000 passengers over a holiday weekend.

The incident sparked a customer backlash with pledges from the carrier that it would do better in future.

Passengers also faced delays due to an IT issue in February, days after flights had been cancelled due to Storm Eunice.

Meanwhile, traffic has started building up at Dover as people embark on cross-Channel ferry trips.

Ferry operator DFDS said shortly before 08:30 BST that there was a wait of around an hour at border control for travellers in cars, while coach traffic was "free-flowing".

The Port of Dover tweeted that traffic is "currently processing well with no wait time for coaches, less than an hour wait for cars".

Dover has been dogged by long tailbacks of vehicles during busy holiday periods. In the lead up to Easter some coach passengers faced 15-hour delays to board ferries to France from the Kent port.

Dover's boss said this week it has done "everything we can" to prevent travel delays over the upcoming bank holiday and school half-term break.

On the roads, motoring organisation the RAC said it it expects this to be the busiest late May bank holiday since before the pandemic with around 19 million separate leisure trips by car between Friday and the end of Monday.

Elsewhere, Eurotunnel reported its cross-Channel vehicle services were busy, but trains were departing on time.

On the railway, a fault with the signalling system between East Croydon and Gatwick Airport is expected to cause disruption until around 15:00.

Rail passengers are also being warned that services will be "severely reduced" because of strikes during the coming week. Members of the drivers' union Aslef will walk out on 31 May and 3 June, while the RMT union has called a strike on 2 June.

Additional reporting by Peter Ruddick

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