British Airways I.T. outage traced to a contractor who switched off power supply in a data centre

The outage is expected to cost the British Airways upwards of 100 million pounds, including compensation to passengers and additional customer care.

A contractor doing maintenance work at a British Airways data centre inadvertently switched off the power supply, knocking out the airline's computer systems and leaving 75,000 people stranded last weekend, the Times newspaper reported on Friday.

Quoting a BA source, the newspaper said the power supply unit that sparked the I.T. failure was working perfectly but was accidentally shut down by a worker. An investigation into the power outage is likely to focus on human error rather than any equipment failure, it said.

BA had to cancel all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports last Saturday. It blamed a power surge that knocked out its computer system, disrupting flight operations, call centres and its website.

The outage is expected to cost the British Airways upwards of 100 million pounds, in lost business, compensation to passengers and additional customer care necessary. The airline did not provide any explanation for the outage after resuming operations, which led some local worker unions to blame the outage on jobs outsourced to Indian IT firms. It has now emerged that outsourcing to India is not the cause of the outage.

This is not the first time that a technical malfunction has left thousands of airline passengers stranded. In August 2016, a computer outage led to all Delta Airlines flights being grounded. Delta is a US based company, but the technical glitch lead to the grounding of all Delta flights worldwide. It took almost three days for the airlines to stabilise its operations after the outage.

With inputs from Reuters

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