Worker pulled plug, caused British Airways chaos

CANCUN, MEXICO – British Airways has commissioned an independent study to look into last month’s shutdown of its data centre, which knocked out its systems and stranded 75,000 people over a bank holiday weekend, its parent company’s CEO said on Monday.

“We have commissioned an independent company to conduct a full investigation,” International Consolidated Airlines Group SA Chief Executive Officer Willie Walsh told journalists at an annual airline industry meeting in Mexico. “It will be peer reviewed, and we will be happy to disclose details.

“I’m hoping that people will be able to learn from the experience that we have had, and we’ll all be better as a result,” he said.

Walsh said the incident occurred when an electrical engineer disconnected the uninterruptible power supply, therefore shutting down the data centre.

That would not have been a big problem in itself, he said, but the damage was caused when the power was restored in an uncontrolled fashion.

“It’s very clear to me that you can make a mistake in disconnecting the power,” he said. “It’s difficult for me to understand how to make a mistake in reconnecting the power.”

Walsh, who apologised again to customers, said the incident had damaged the British Airways brand but that the airline would recover.

“This is something I wouldn’t wish on anybody,” he said. “When you see customers who suffered, you wouldn’t want it to happen to any airline or any business.”

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