World

BA chief won't resign over disruptions

While British Airways has resumed a full flight schedule after computer breakdown, it is still working to reunite passengers with their bags

LONDON: 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 resumed a full flight schedule yesterday.

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.

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 said yesterday that BA returned to a full flight schedule, adding that it was working with the airline to get delayed bags to passengers "as soon as possible".

"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 was a public holiday and many schoolchildren were beginning a week's holiday.

LUGGAGE

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."

Some British media suggested on Monday that BA could be hit with a bill of more than £100 million (S$177.6 million) in 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. - WIRE SERVICES

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