Power surge knocked out British Airways' back-up systems, too

Passengers at Terminal 5 of London's Heathrow Airport yesterday. British Airways' operations were returning to normal yesterday and it said it would resume more than 95 per cent of its normal flight schedule.
Passengers at Terminal 5 of London's Heathrow Airport yesterday. British Airways' operations were returning to normal yesterday and it said it would resume more than 95 per cent of its normal flight schedule.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • British Airways' (BA) has said a power surge that collapsed its IT systems, leading to travel chaos for thousands of passengers over the weekend, was so strong that it also knocked out its back-up systems, making them ineffective.

"Once the disruption is over, we will carry out an exhaustive investigation into what caused this incident, and take measures to ensure it never happens again," the airline's chief executive, Mr Alex Cruz, said in a statement yesterday.

BA's operations were returning to normal yesterday and it said it would resume more than 95 per cent of its normal flight schedule.

Mr Cruz added that BA would fully honour passengers' compensation rights, as set out under European Union regulations for delayed and cancelled flights.

BA cancelled all Saturday afternoon and evening departures from Heathrow and Gatwick following what it called a "very severe disruption" worldwide to computer systems handling check-in, baggage sorting and reservations.

The disruption coincides with the start of the annual end-of-May Bank Holiday weekend in Britain, as well as the three-day Memorial Day weekend regarded as the unofficial start of summer in the United States.

 

The operational collapse comes a year after Mr Cruz was appointed chief executive of BA, a unit of International Consolidated Airlines Group, with a mission to slash costs and improve profitability.

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

Ireland's Ryanair was quick to seize on the marketing opportunity, tweeting "Should have flown Ryanair" with a picture of the "Computer says no" sketch from the television series Little Britain to poke fun at BA.

The weekend's outage could cost BA £82 million (S$146 million), according to Goodbody Stockbrokers, which estimates that about 1,200 flights were affected and that 171,000 passengers qualify for damages.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2017, with the headline 'Power surge knocked out British Airways' back-up systems, too'. Print Edition | Subscribe