BA flights restored but questions remain after weekend IT meltdown

Tue May 30, 2017 12:32pm EDT
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By Alistair Smout

LONDON (Reuters) - British Airways flights were back in the skies on Tuesday but the company faced increasing pressure over its response to the huge IT failure that left 75,000 passengers stranded over a holiday weekend and dealt a major blow to its reputation.

BA, which once marketed itself as "the world's favorite airline" suffered a public relations disaster after it had to cancel all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday. It blamed a power surge that knocked out its computer system, disrupting flight operations, call centers and its website.

Although BA said it expected to run a full schedule from Heathrow and Gatwick on Tuesday, it was left with work to do in the longer term to restore its reputation after a long weekend of chaos and frustration for passengers.

British Prime Minister Theresa May weighed in on the issue on the campaign trial ahead of the June 8 national election.

"It is up to them to sort their IT out and to ensure that they're able to provide the services that people expect them to provide as British Airways," May said.

London-listed shares in BA's parent company IAG fell when the stock market reopened. BA said it was launching a thorough investigation to understand what happened and make sure there was no repeat.

BA had already come under fire for charging extra for food and baggage and the sight of stranded passengers trying to sleep on the floor of its gleaming Heathrow Terminal 5 building is likely to tarnish its image.

"This will certainly damage their reputation," said Angharad Griffiths, a travel agent who was at Heathrow picking up a tour group from Lisbon. "I've never had a good experience with them, even before this."   Continued...

People wait with their luggage at the British Airways check in desks at Heathrow Terminal 5 in London, Britain May 28, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall