Computer meltdown may cost British Airways over $100 million

The airline Monday asked passengers again to check their flights status before setting out for the airports, which were crowded over the weekend with so many flights canceled and delayed.

Thousands of passengers were left stranded over a busy holiday weekend in Britain after BA scrapped hundreds of flights worldwide. Those flights still canceled were mostly short-haul services, the airline said.

BA said on Twitter it would run a full schedule at London's Gatwick on Monday and meant to operate a full long-haul schedule from Heathrow along with a high proportion of short-haul service.

Passengers still face hours-long lines to check in, reclaim lost luggage or rebook flights at Terminal 5, BA's hub at Heathrow.

Speaking to the BBC, Cruz said the power surge "only lasted a few minutes", but the back-up system had failed. The company said there was no evidence the failure was the result of a cyber attack.

Cruz said that the airline is operating 95% of planned flights from Heathrow and Gatwick Monday, and two-thirds of affected passengers should reach their destination by the end of the day.

A British Airways spokesperson told ABC News on Monday, "The power supply issue was at one of our United Kingdom data centers local to the Heathrow area".

Giving his first media interview since a major outage on Saturday caused the airline's IT system to collapse, Alex Cruz refused to resign and said the problem was not a result of outsourcing jobs to other countries.

"We believe the root cause was a power supply issue", said Cruz, adding that IT teams were working "tirelessly" to fix the problems.

Waiting area at Heathrow airport where passengers are waiting for details about flights.

Flight compensation website Flightright.com said that with around 800 flights cancelled at Gatwick and Heathrow on Saturday and Sunday, BA was looking at having to pay around 61 million euros ($68 million) in compensation under European Union rules.

The company, part of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, warned of congestion at Heathrow and advised passengers only to go to the airport if they had a confirmed booking.

In a statement released on Sunday, chief executive Alex Cruz said: "I know this has been a disgusting time for customers".

Many complained of scant information from staff. All hotels in immediate vicinity were booked, passengers were told.

Experts say the knock-on effect could continue for several days, with the airline facing huge compensation costs - up to £100 million according to some estimates.

The Sun newspaper, quoting one source close to the airline said the problems could have been limited had IT staff outsourced to India known how to get its back-up system online quickly.

However, BA faced further criticism today when it was claimed that the airline was charging delayed passengers £800 to upgrade to spare seats in premium economy.

  • Zachary Reyes