BA says IT collapse came after servers damaged by power problem

One of history's largest IT meltdowns in the aviation space has reportedly been triggered by human error.

British Airways' disastrous computer outage that knocked out its IT systems and left 75,000 passengers stranded over the bank holiday weekend was the result of a contractor who inadvertently switched off the power supply.

BA denies there was a problem with its system but said it was due to an "interrupted" electrical power supply.

According to sources, the engineer works for CBRE Global Workplace Solutions. This is because European Union flight compensation regulations require airline operators to provide compensation to passengers that suffer long delays or cancellations in circumstances like this.

BA owner IAG saw shares initially fall by around 4% in the first day of trading in London after the outage occurred.

Cruz told Sky News Monday the problem started at 9:30 Saturday morning when "there was indeed a power surge that had a catastrophic effect over some communications hardware which eventually affected all the messaging across our systems".

It blamed the chaos on a power failure at a data centre near Heathrow and subsequent power surge which knocked out its computer system, disrupting flight operations, call centres and its website.

"Thank you for your support and understanding and once again we offer our honest apologies for the situation which happened".

"We know what happened but we're still investigating why it happened and that investigation will take some time", Walsh told the BBC.

Data centres generally rely on an uninterruptible power supply, or UPS, which is created to keep providing power to a data centre even if the mains supply fails.

BA Chief Executive Alex Cruz has also rejected criticism from trade union GMB that the outage could have been avoided had it not made a decision to outsource IT staff to India.

In a statement, the airline said: "We are continuing to make good progress in reuniting bags with customers around the world who were affected by the major IT systems failure on Saturday".

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

"We are also urging them to bring work back in-house".

"While the costs of passenger compensation and refunds could well run into the tens of millions, the whole sorry episode has undeniably put a dent in BA's reputation for delivering a premium service, and the worry for shareholders is that this unquantifiable impact could have longer-term consequences".

Meanwhile, the airline has come in for criticism after signposting some customers to a phone line costing up to 62p per minute.

Sutherland said: "I've got travel insurance but it doesn't cover me for this".

"In the first instance you should seek compensation from British Airways".

On balance I think there are more questions to answer before investors will give the benefit of doubt and rather a lot more before BA's long suffering passengers do the same.

BA said: "We would never compromise the integrity and security of our IT systems".

Corporate services firm GWS said it was the manager of the BA facility and was supporting the investigation.

  • Zachary Reyes