British Airways says recent IT meltdown was caused by human error

British Airways has admitted that the IT meltdown that occurred over a bank holiday weekend, leaving 75,000 passengers stranded, was caused by human error.

The boss of IAG, BA’s parent company, Willie Walsh, said that an engineer was responsible for disconnecting a power supply, therefore shutting the airline’s data centre down because of major damage caused by a surge when it was reconnected.

The engineer was authorised to be in the data centre, however, he was not authorised “to do what he did”.

Photo by Adrian Pingstone – Public Domain.

At an annual airline conference in Mexico on Monday the BA boss said: “It’s very clear to me that you can make a mistake in disconnecting the power.

“It’s difficult for me to understand how to make a mistake in reconnecting the power,” he added.

There will be an independent investigation “to learn from the experience,” Walsh said.

“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 added:

“This is something I wouldn’t wish on anybody,

“When you see customers who suffered, you wouldn’t want it to happen to any airline or any business.”

No further details were provided, prompting some experts to say that blaming a power surge for the outage is just too simplistic. An outage occurs when a system or the electricity supply fails.

According to the BBC, last week an email was leaked indicating that the power supply was switched off because a contractor doing maintenance work unintentionally switched the power supply off.

The email said: “This resulted in the total immediate loss of power to the facility, bypassing the backup generators and batteries… After a few minutes of this shutdown, it was turned back on in an unplanned and uncontrolled fashion, which created physical damage to the systems and significantly exacerbated the problem.”