June 5, 2017 / 4:38 PM / a year ago

British Airways commissions independent study of IT outage

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

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

“We have commissioned an independent company to conduct a full investigation,” International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (ICAG.L) 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 center.

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 apologized 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.”

Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Von Ahn

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