Walsh backs BA boss after computer chaos

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Media captionIAG boss Willie Walsh says BA did "everything possible" to get flying again after the IT fiasco

Willie Walsh, the head of British Airways owner IAG, has backed the BA boss in his first interview since the IT fiasco that grounded flights last weekend.

He said Alex Cruz, the British Airways chief executive, had done a great job.

Mr Walsh said he doubted anyone could have managed the challenge better and that Mr Cruz did well to get planes back in the air as quickly as he did.

The IAG boss again apologised for the chaos caused by the outage.

"Clearly we will do everything we can to make up [for] the disruption they suffered," Mr Walsh said.

Saturday's IT meltdown grounded hundreds of flights and disrupted the travel plans of tens of thousands of passengers around the world.

Mr Walsh said it was unfair to try to blame Mr Cruz because the problem was not of his making.

"We know what happened but we're still investigating why it happened and that investigation will take some time," he said.

"The team at British Airways did everything they could in the circumstances to recover the operation as quickly as they did and our focus will be on making sure that any of our customers who experienced disruption are managed and satisfied with how we handled things."

The airline said on Wednesday that a loss of power to a UK data centre was "compounded" by a power surge that took out its IT systems.

BA claimed that this did not constitute an IT failure, but rather "it was an electrical power supply which was interrupted".


Image copyright Reuters

By Richard Westcott, BBC transport correspondent

There are two interesting points here.

One. Willie Walsh has launched a pretty robust defence of the man at the helm of British Airways, Alex Cruz.

Apparently, he "could not have done a better job" handling the crisis and criticism of him is "unfair".

The BA boss came under fire for taking three days to give an interview about the problems and for failing to tell stranded customers what was going on.

Two. Mr Walsh says they know what went wrong, but they don't know why. And they won't know for some time.

There's been widespread scepticism amongst IT experts I've spoken to, including former BA IT workers, that the airline's current explanation of a "local power surge" could truly have wreaked such havoc.

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