British Airways chief won't resign over disruptions, airline will run full flight schedule on Tuesday

British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz will not resign, saying that the disruption had nothing to do with cutting costs.
British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz will not resign, saying that the disruption had nothing to do with cutting costs. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS, AFP) - British Airways (BA) chief executive Alex Cruz has said he will not resign over the airline's worldwide computer system failure that stranded thousands of passengers as London's Heathrow airport said the airline expects to run a full flight schedule on Tuesday (May 30).

BA had been forced to cancel all its flights from Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, and Gatwick on Saturday after a power supply problem disrupted its operations worldwide and also hit its call centres and website. The system failure at the airline stranded 75,000 passengers over a holiday weekend.

Mr Cruz told the BBC on Monday the failure had been caused by a power surge that had "only lasted a few minutes" but the problem was that the back-up system had then not worked properly.

He added that the disruption had nothing to do with cutting costs.

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The GMB union, however, said the disruption "could have all been avoided" if BA had not cut hundreds of IT jobs in Britain and transferred the work to India.

London's Heathrow on Tuesday said BA would run a full flight schedule, adding that it was working with the airline to get delayed bags to passengers "as soon as possible", the airport said on Twitter.

"Our IT systems are now back up and running and we will be operating a full flight schedule at Heathrow and Gatwick on Tuesday 30 May," BA said on its website.

Tens of thousands of passengers were left stranded following the failure, which shut down all of the carrier's check-in and operational systems and affected call centres and its website.

BA's outage came on a busy weekend in Britain, where Monday is a public holiday and many schoolchildren are beginning a week's holiday.

Passengers were asked to contact BA to locate their luggage, after many were forced to leave Heathrow without claiming their bags in chaotic scenes that saw queues snaking out of the airports.

Passengers of the airline faced a third day of disruption at Heathrow on Monday after BA cancelled short-haul flights over the failure, although the airline operated a full service from Gatwick Airport.

Mr Cruz said that 75,000 passengers had been affected by the failure.

"We know that there have been holidays interrupted and personal events that have been interrupted and people waiting in queues for a really long time," he told Sky News.

"We absolutely profusely apologise for that and we are absolutely committed to provide and abide by the compensation rules that are currently in place."

COMPENSATION COSTS 

Some British media suggested on Monday that BA could be hit with a bill of more than £100 million (S$177.6 million) for compensation costs for stranded passengers' food and accommodation.

Australian tennis player John Peers tweeted on Monday asking BA about his lost rackets, which he needs for the French Open.

"I'm playing at @rolandgarros tomorrow. @British-Airways any chance you can find and send my rackets from London to Paris please....," he wrote.

BA has suffered other IT glitches recently, leading to severe delays for passengers in July and September last year.

IAG, the parent group of BA and Spanish carrier Iberia, earlier this month reported a 74-per cent slump in first-quarter net profit to €27 million, due in large part to a weak pound.