Computer problems have hit British Airways operations at London’s Heathrow Airport just hours after a fire alarm grounded dozens of flights.
British Airways has cancelled a number of short haul flights after the incident involving a ‘supplier IT system’ on Wednesday evening.
A spokesman said: ‘As with a number of airlines, we are experiencing some disruption at Heathrow a result of an issue with a supplier IT system.
‘We are working with our supplier to urgently resolve the matter and are sorry for the disruption to our customers’ travel plans.’
People were stuck at the airport as departures and arrivals were cancelled following the evacuation of the control tower
It is believed the problem has not hit all of the IT systems used by the airline and most are working as normal.
Virgin Atlantic said it is not affected by any IT issues at Heathrow.
It added to earlier disruptions caused by a fire alert at Heathrow’s air traffic control tower on Wednesday afternoon.
The alert disrupted services at Terminal 5 for BA, and briefly forced flights to be diverted to other airports.
A Heathrow Airport spokesman said the alarm ‘impacted operation of the airfield for a short while’ on Wednesday afternoon.
A British Airways spokesman said: ‘As a result of the temporary closure of Heathrow Airport’s air traffic control tower earlier this afternoon, a small number of flights from all airlines were forced to divert to alternative airports.
Aircraft stand still at Heathrow Airport where emergency services were deployed following a fire alarm
Aircraft are pictured stationary at the scene today after a fire alarm cancelled departures and evacuations
‘We are doing all we can to keep any knock-on disruption to our services to a minimum and are sorry for the disruption to our customers’ travel plans. ‘
A Gatwick Airport spokesman said: ‘We only had two diverts from Heathrow Airport as a result of the earlier action – one from Glasgow at 5pm and the other was from St Petersburgh at 5.10pm.’
The airport confirmed this afternoon on Twitter that emergency services were at the scene – and all flights departing or arriving were on hold from 4.30pm onwards.
It is not yet known what caused the fire alarm to activate but the airport confirmed that it had evacuated parts of the buildings as part of its procedure.
With about 76 flights an hour, the London airport faced chaos as would-be flyers were stuck in stationary aircraft and landings were disrupted.
Chaos in the skies: London’s Heathrow Airport closed to arrivals and departures and evacuated its control tower today
The control tower was evacuated and an airport spokesperson said: ‘We are investigating what it means for flights landing and departing.’
One passenger was told that delays could be up to ‘three to five hours’.
An airport spokesperson later confirmed that normal operations had resumed, 45 minutes after the initial fire alarm.
Heathrow Airport is one of the busiest transport hubs in the world with flights landing on the tarmac every 90 seconds on average.
Although the lockdown lasted only around an hour, it is likely that thousands of journeys will have been affected as passengers missed connecting flights or were barred from taking off altogether.
People Tweeted from the scene amid reports that the tower had been evacuated after a fire alarm at the London airport