British Airways denies sabotage in Heathrow hangar

Bill Abbott,CC BY-SA 2.0

When British Airways (BA) Boeing 777 got an unexpected wash with a fire extinguisher foam, some suspected sabotage by unhappy staff. After all, the company had just announced thousands of job cuts. However, the airline denies that the incident was caused by an employee, stating the incident was simply caused by a system malfunction. 

On May 3, 2020, images emerged on social media, showing British Airways 20-years’ old Boeing 777-200 aircraft (registration number G-YMMB) in a hangar filled with foam in Heathrow.

At the time, there were two competing versions of what happened. While some said it was a malfunction of the fire suppression system, others believed that the system was triggered on purpose. 

In the preceding month, British Airways has furloughed 22,626 employees and began formally notifying its trade unions about upcoming job cuts. As the airline’s parent company, the International Airlines Group (IAG) (IAG), outlined on April 28, up to 12,000 BA’s employees might be made redundant. 

But while the sabotage version might be compelling, it is also false. “One of our fire prevention systems in our hanger experienced a technical issue causing foam to be dispersed as part of a safety feature,” British Airways told Reuters, as reported on May 7. The publication also points out that the fire suppression system in the hangar is automated, according to BA, therefore it cannot be activated by a person. 

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