‘Uncontrolled’ return of power overwhelmed servers, says British Airways

Picture: unsplash.com/@francoisvanwyk

An IT failure that stranded 75,000 British Airways passengers followed damage to servers that were overwhelmed when the power returned after an outage, said the airline today. BA, part of the Spanish group IAG, is seeking to limit the damage to its reputation and has apologised to customers after hundreds of flights were canceled over a holiday weekend.

While there was a power failure at a data centre near London’s Heathrow airport, the damage was caused by an overwhelming surge once the electricity was restored, it said. “There was a total loss of power at the data center. The power then returned in an uncontrolled way causing physical damage to the IT servers,” BA said in a statement. “It was not an IT issue, it was a power issue.” Investigations were continuing into the cause of the power surge, it added.

BA had already spoken of an “exceptional power surge” in a statement on Monday, which had been so strong that it rendered the back-up system ineffective. The airline’s chief executive Alex Cruz has also rejected criticism from trade union GMB that the outage could have been avoided had it not decided to outsource IT staff to India.

IAG Chief Executive Willie Walsh, who had been silent in the media in the immediate aftermath, admitted the fiasco had damaged BA’s brand but denied that its IT centres were too old. “We invest billions in new equipment. If investment is required, we make the investment,” Walsh was quoted as saying by The Times newspaper.