British Airways’ network crashes at Heathrow, Gatwick; union claims outsourcing to India the cause

After a massive computer network crash, British Airways’ (BA) GMB union has blamed the airline's 2016 decision of outsourcing information technology (IT) jobs to India as the reason behind cancelling all Saturday flights from London's two biggest airports.

The GMB union said the airline's decision to outsource hundreds of IT jobs to India last year was behind the problems, the Guardian reported. The GMB union said BA laid off hundreds of IT staff last year and outsourced the work to India and blamed cost cutting for the travel chaos.

Planes lining up on a runway at Heathrow Airport.
Planes lining up on a runway at Heathrow Airport. Photo courtesy:

"This could have all been avoided," said Mick Rix, national officer for aviation at the GMB union. According to the GMB website, the union had on February 29, 2016, warned against BA outsourcing IT jobs.

British Airways cancelled all flights from Heathow and Gatwick on Saturday due to a major IT failure causing severe disruption to its global operations. The airline said its terminals at Heathrow and Gatwick became "extremely congested" due to computer problems.

Chief executive Alex Cruz, denying that this was a ransomware attack, said, "We believe the root cause was a power-supply issue and we have no evidence of any cyber attack.”

The computer crash affected BA's booking system, baggage handling, mobile phone apps and check-in desks, leaving passengers facing long delays and confusion in the airports while planes were held on the runways.

More than 1,000 flights were affected. At Heathrow alone, BA had 406 flights scheduled to depart after 9 am and a further 71 at Gatwick, according to