Economy

Computer meltdown may cost British Airways over $100 million

Computer meltdown may cost British Airways over $100 million

The UK's largest airline British Airways (BA) says it is working to restore its computer systems following two days of disruption for thousands of passengers.

Passengers faced a third day of disruption at Heathrow on Monday as British Airways cancelled short-haul flights after a global computer crash that unions blamed on the outsourcing of IT services to India.

Strickland said Heathrow was worst affected because it is the biggest BA hub and handles more long haul flights.

ABC News on Saturday observed thousands of passengers at one of British Airways' terminals at Heathrow Airport, with some saying they were never alerted that their flights were canceled.

However, it did not appear to be a cyber-attack, according to chairman and chief executive Alex Cruz, who said the root cause appeared to be a "power supply issue".

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Cruz apologized in a video statement, saying: "I know this has been a terrible time for customers".

Passengers departing South Africa on British Airways flights should carry a printed copy of their e-ticket and should arrive at the airport earlier than usual, Flight Centre Travel Group has advised.

British Airways said Monday that it does not have "a complete picture" of what caused the catastrophic IT outage that took down its systems in 170 airports across 70 different countries over the weekend. "On behalf of everyone at BA I want to apologise for the fact you've had to go through these very trying experiences", said Cruz.

Short-haul flights from the airport were subject to cancellations and delays, after the IT glitch led to scenes of chaos at Heathrow and Gatwick over the weekend. His focus, he said, was on communicating with passengers who were affected and getting normal service restored.

But he added that it might be harder for passengers to claim compensation, as BA may blame "extraordinary circumstances" - "like an act of God or force majeure" - meaning the airline would only have to reimburse hotel and food costs.

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Shares in British Airways' parent company IAG fell 2.7% on Monday.

BA has not explained the cause of the power outage, but the unions blamed the airline's decision past year of outsourcing IT jobs to India for causing the disruptions. Many passengers had to leave without their luggage, amid complaints about a lack of information.

Measures in his four-year programme to boost margins include cutting nearly 700 back-office jobs, as well as maintenance posts, outsourcing some technology operations and switching to paid-for food on short-haul flights.

The IT systems of airlines come into play at every step, including ticket booking, check-in and boarding, while technology is updated periodically to streamline operations and cut costs.

Even if power could not have been restored, the Disaster Recovery Plan of the airline should have taken over, but that would in part depend upon a staff that has knowledge of the airlines patchwork, complex systems that have been built up during the years.

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