Business

BA sues U.S. outsourcing giant CBRE over its computer chaos

British Airways has launched a legal battle with a US outsourcing giant that bosses blame for a £58 million IT meltdown which left tens of thousands of passengers stranded
Written by admin

British Airways has launched a legal battle with a US outsourcing giant that bosses blame for a £58 million IT meltdown which left tens of thousands of passengers stranded.

The Mail on Sunday has learned that BA is suing CBRE in London’s High Court over the Heathrow computer crash which forced the airline to cancel 672 flights over three days. 

BA, which is part of the FTSE 100 firm International Airlines Group, has appointed Linklaters, one of the ‘Magic Circle’ of leading City law firms, to bring the claim against CBRE Managed Services, a subsidiary of the £11 billion-valued US company.

British Airways has launched a legal battle with a US outsourcing giant that bosses blame for a £58 million IT meltdown which left tens of thousands of passengers stranded

British Airways has launched a legal battle with a US outsourcing giant that bosses blame for a £58 million IT meltdown which left tens of thousands of passengers stranded

The meltdown is thought to have disrupted 75,000 passengers, many of whom claimed compensation. IAG chief executive Willie Walsh estimated the disaster would cost the airline €65 million (£58 million) in total. 

Shortly after the fiasco last year, Walsh blamed a contractor electrical engineer for the problems. BA commissioned an independent report to investigate the cause, but has so far refused to publish the document. 

At the time, CBRE – which managed data centres for BA at Heathrow – dismissed reports suggesting that investigators had found a contractor was to blame. 

‘We are the manager of the facility for our client BA and fully support its investigation,’ a spokesman said. ‘No determination has been made yet regarding the cause of this incident. Any speculation to the contrary is not founded in fact.’

Walsh told journalists at a conference in Mexico that an engineer had disconnected a power supply, shutting down a data centre at Heathrow. The problems were said to have occurred when the power was restored in an uncontrolled manner.

The meltdown is thought to have disrupted 75,000 passengers, many of whom claimed compensation. IAG chief executive Willie Walsh estimated the disaster would cost the airline ¿65 million (£58 million) in total

The meltdown is thought to have disrupted 75,000 passengers, many of whom claimed compensation. IAG chief executive Willie Walsh estimated the disaster would cost the airline ¿65 million (£58 million) in total

The meltdown is thought to have disrupted 75,000 passengers, many of whom claimed compensation. IAG chief executive Willie Walsh estimated the disaster would cost the airline €65 million (£58 million) in total

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

Heathrow was plunged into chaos on a busy May Bank Holiday weekend last year. The IT failure hit check-in, operational systems and customer service phone lines. There were further repercussions as it had the knock-on effect of triggering major disruption at Gatwick. 

Flashback: How we reported the BA disruption in May last year

Flashback: How we reported the BA disruption in May last year

Flashback: How we reported the BA disruption in May last year

The crash piled pressure on to British Airways bosses and Walsh was forced to deny that cost-cutting was at the root of the problem after unions pointed to hundreds of redundancies made across the airline’s IT department.

Mike Tobin, an IT expert who ran data centre giant Telecity, said at the time: ‘If they had proper resilience, they would not have had an outage. What this boils down to is whether BA scrimped and saved or whether they paid for that resilience.’

British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz – who reports to Walsh – came in for particular criticism. The Spaniard, formerly of low-cost airline Vueling, has previously been accused of having a ‘slash and burn’ management style. 

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday earlier this year, Cruz revealed that British Airways has invested in new data centres to avoid any repeats. ‘That wasn’t a computer problem, it was a power problem,’ he said.

Cruz has been chairman and chief executive of BA since April 2016, three years after IAG bought Vueling. BA came under further scrutiny this year after it emerged that the airline’s website had been hit by a cyber attack in August. The credit card details of hundreds of thousands of customers were stolen by hackers.

Both British Airways and CBRE declined to comment. It is not known at this stage how much BA is seeking in damages. 


Source link

About the author

admin

Leave a Comment