Glitch delays British Airways flights amid looming 27-day rail strike

Technical issues prompted British Airways to cancel or delay dozens of international flights headed for London, officials said Thursday.

An airport official said the problem appeared to be in British Airways’ flight planning system. File Photo by Molly Riley

The carrier said unexplained technical issues interfered with flights from numerous locations, including the United States and the Caribbean, and kept them from landing at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

“Our teams are working hard to resolve a technical issue … and we have rebooked customers onto alternative flights and offered hotel accommodation,” the airline said. “We are very sorry for the disruption to their travel plans.”

Some flights from the Caribbean and Mexico to Gatwick faced delays as long as 22 hours. Other travelers from Barbados, Antigua, Bermuda and New York City also saw hours-long delays.

An official at Gatwick told BBC News the problem was in the airline’s flight planning system.

Trouble with Britain’s national carrier wasn’t the only transportation-related issue Thursday. The Rail, Maritime and Transport union authorized a 27-day labor strike against South Western Railway next month after negotiations broke down. At issue are details about the presence of guards on trains.

“Throughout these ‎talks, [South Western Railway] has not shown any intention of moving the issues at the heart of the dispute forwards despite verbal assurances in earlier discussions,” RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said in a statement.

“As a result of the [SWR] attitude all planned action remains on and the union is committed to ensuring the safest possible method of operation.”

SWR Managing Director Andy Mellors promised there will continue to be guards on all trains.

“We believe that these promises deliver what the RMT has been asking for, so these strikes are unnecessary.”

The strikes are set for three stints — from Dec. 2-11, from Dec. 13-24 and from Dec. 27-Jan. 1.

ByClyde Hughes