The computer glitch that brought British Airways down to earth shows the airline is no longer such a high flyer.
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BA used to take pride as the ‘world’s airline’with a reputation for reliability and quality.
But cost-cutting throughout the company is starting to take a toll, according to critics.
Many blame the computer system outage on outsourcing key functions to India, rather than having local experts on hand.
BA demies this was a problem and blames a back-up system failure for compounding the problem, which was eventually fixed by IT staff in the UK.
By this time, the damage was done, with thousands of passengers and their luggage unable to fly, aircraft grounded at 170 airports in 70 countries and a compensation bill ticking up to more than £100 million.
Shares in parent company IAG bombed when the London stock market opened after a bank holiday weekend.
BA blames an unexpected power surge near Heathrow, London, for the outage, which blanked screens for messaging, baggage and bookings worldwide.
“We’re absolutely committed to finding out the root causes of this particular event,” said CEO Adam Cruz.
“We do apologise profusely for the hardship that these customers of ours have had to go through.”
At one stage, shares which had traded at well over 600p dropped to 580p, but recovered to around 605p.
This is the third IT problem for BA in just a few months.
In September, another network failure crashed the airline’s booking system worldwide, while only a few weeks ago, another crash at London Gatwick had problems routing baggage.
Unions representing BA staff say outsourcing to India and cutting 700 IT jobs in the UK has left the airline vulnerable to computer network problems.
BA denies the charge and maintains the company has made a considerable investment in hardware to avert such problems.
Market analysts say BA has not done enough to reassure passengers and investors.
RBS Capital Markets analyst Damian Brewer said BA’s apparent failure to learn lessons from IT issues suffered by rivals “suggests fundamental management and planning weakness”.
Delta, the US airline, has grounded flights due to IT failures twice in nine months.
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