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    Sunday, May 28, 2017

    British Airways cancels all flights from major London airports after IT failure

    British Airways' Spanish boss Alex Cruz has been blamed for causing the computer meltdown that saw thousands of passengers stranded on Saturday after outsourcing hundreds of IT job to India.
    Mr Cruz, who founded low-cost carrier Clickair and headed budget airline Vueling before being appointed BA chief last year, was accused of replacing highly-skilled British IT professionals with low-cost overseas workers.
    GMB union chiefs said the IT outage, which experts believed could cost the airline £150million in compensation, would have been avoided if those jobs had been allowed to remain in the UK.
    The accusation came as people stuck at Heathrow, where dozens more flights were cancelled on Sunday, vented their fury - describing the situation there as 'leaderless' and 'chaotic'.
    Flights were taking off from Gatwick on Sunday, though some were running with an hour of delays. 
    Since being appointed in April last year, Mr Cruz has overseen a cost-cutting drive that removed free food from short-haul flights and has seen customer satisfaction plunge.
    A Which? report in December last year found that average customer satisfaction with BA had fallen to 67 per cent for short-haul and 60 per cent for long-haul flights, putting it 10th in a table of 23 British carriers.
    The airline's value for money rating dropped from three stars last year to two, while its food rating also fell from four stars down to two. 
    Vueling, the airline formerly run by Mr Cruz, came last in the Which? list of short-haul airlines flying from the UK, as customers said they feared the former 'world's favourite airline' was going in the direction of budget carriers, analysts from Which? said.
    It comes as an industry insider said Mr Cruz's appointment at BA had come as a surprise due to his lack of experience in charge of a large, premium quality airline.
    Julian Bray told Mail Online: 'I would have expected someone with major international airline experience to be put in charge, rather than someone who has been in charge of two smaller airlines, with an indifferent financial record.'I don't feel he has the depth of knowledge required to inject radical competitive new thinking into the up-market British Airways brand.
    'Cruz is known as being an outsourcer and cost-cutter, stripping out frills and cutting head count, and therefore not particularly suited to an upmarket, people-intensive, luxury-price brand.'
    Mr Bray added that it is 'inconceivable' that a single power outage could have caused the meltdown, adding that it is 'ridiculous' that BA didn't have an appropriate backup system in place.

    CV of BA boss who tried to claim scrapping free food was a good thing

    Alex Cruz is a Spanish businessman who was born in Bilbao before being schooled in America.
    It was there that he landed his first job, with American Airlines, spending five years at Sabre, its travel technology arm, and another five in the core business.
    He then moved to the world of airline consultancy, spending some time at Accenture.
    In 2006 he founded his own budget airline, Clickair, which operated out of Barcelona. Three years later it merged with competitor Vueling, with Mr Cruz becoming the group's new CEO.
    After Vueling was bought by International Airline Group in 2013, Mr Cruz joined the IAG Management Committee.
    Three years later he was named the new boss of British Airways, marking a considerable step-up from the smaller brands he managed in the past. 
    In June last year, just two months after Mr Cruz took the reins at BA, The Register claimed a memo had been sent to staff warning of redundancies 'affecting Customer Experience (excluding cabin crew) and People and Legal.'
    In the memo, Cruz reportedly told employees that the cuts were 'about much more than reducing people costs'. 
    Mick Rix, national officer at union GMB, also warned that British professionals on an average of £50,000 per year were being replaced by Indian workers being paid £10,000. 
    Travellers at Heathrow were barred from going inside Terminal 5 on Sunday until 90 minutes before their scheduled departure to deal with overcrowding, while at Gatwick the queue was seen snaking out the door of the South Terminal.  
    Those without a confirmed booking from either airport are being told not to travel.
    Welsh international table tennis player Chloe Thomas arrived around four hours before her 7.30am flight to Germany for the World Table Tennis Championship in Dusseldorf.
    She said there were 'just queues everywhere' and her plane was cancelled at the last minute.
    'We stood in the check-in queue, not moving, for about an hour then it came up on the screen that the flight was cancelled,' she said.
    'To be honest I wasn't surprised. We didn't think we would make the flight because we were in the queue for such a long time.' 
    After finding out they would not be departing for Dusseldorf as planned, the group joined 'another queue the length of the airport' to get a number to rebook.
    'It's chaos, people are running about all over the place trying to rebook,' Thomas said.
    'There's no-one to help, no leadership, it's just mental. There are lots of people everywhere.There's nowhere to sit, so people are just lying on the floor, sleeping on yoga mats.'
    Airport staff had handed out the yoga mats, as well as thin blankets, for people who were stuck there overnight, she added.Mr Cruz issued a second statement on Sunday, saying: 'Many of our IT systems are back up today. At Gatwick we're running a near-full operation, although some flights maybe subject to delays.
    'At Heathrow we plan to fly all of our long-haul services but the knock-on effects of yesterday's disruption will lead to delays.'I know this has been a horrible time for customers. Some of you have missed holidays, some of you have been stranded on an aircraft and some of you have been separated from your bags. 
    'On behalf of everyone at BA I want to apologise that you've had to go through these trying experiences.'

    How BA has cut back over the years

    2009: Free meals scrapped on some short-haul routes, bottles of water are replaced by 'cuplets' and range of free alcohol is also reduced
    2013: BA introduces 'no-frills' fare option for some short-haul flights which does not include hold luggage 
    2015: Passengers on 'no-frills' tickets will now have to pay for allocated seating, airlines confirms
    2016: BA begins scheduling flights from Stanstead, typically the airport of low-cost airlines such as Ryanair
    In April, the month Mr Cruz was appointed, the airline announced three price brackets: Basic, Flex and Flex Plus. Basic ticket holders cannot change their flight information, take hold luggage, or select their seats
    Up to 300,000 customers on more than 1,000 flights are thought to have been affected after a 'power supply issue' at 11am on Saturday caused flights from Heathrow and Gatwick to be cancelled for the rest of the day. 
    Now experts have said the airline could be facing a record-breaking £150million compensation bill under EU laws, and warn the chaos will last 'for several days.' 
    James Walker, CEO of the Resolver claims website, told the Mirror: 'The average claim will be around £300. That's £90million – a monumental amount.
    'But when you add in the cost of hotels the airline has to provide, the cost could top £150million. It could be the biggest compensation payout ever.'
    Gilbert Ott, travel expert and the man behind God Save the Points, said: 'On one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, it's hard to fathom how IT problems could cripple Gatwick and Heathrow operations, stranding countless passengers. 
    'It's inexcusable. After a tumultuous year of headlines for British Airways I'm sure I'm not the only one who hopes the passenger investments the airline is currently making will soon give the public a reason to trust them and enjoy their experience again, because bank holiday weekend is sacred and people are losing patience.' 
    Customers told The Telegraph that hotels around the airports were charging up to £2,500 for a one-night stay yesterday.
    It came as union GMB said the outage 'could have been avoided' if hundreds of skilled IT jobs had not been outsourced to India last year. 


    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4549262/British-Airways-faces-record-150m-compensation-payout.html#ixzz4iOpXMU9k
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    A British bride was left 'in tears' when her dream Greek wedding had to be postponed because her guests got stuck in the travel chaos at Heathrow.
    Laura Thomson, from Guildford, was due to marry fiance Sam Sciortino on the island of Santorini on Sunday.
    But the British Airways IT failure saw three bridesmaids and her brother get stuck at Heathrow Terminal 5 for 13 hours, before they managed to leave without their luggage after booking with a different airline.
    Writing on Facebook, Miss Thomson said: 'What can I say, I am just a shell of myself right now, my head is vacant, we are absolutely shattered. 
    'Thanks to all the suppliers out here we have managed to swap dates, without too much loss.
    'I have been in tears with our dream of how it should of been slowly fading away, knowing I can't share the day with my family the way I imagined, my sister in law and nieces no longer able to be bridesmaids, my brother no longer with his suit, but we are looking on the positives that at least they will all be here at the last hour.'
    Miss Thomson said she spent two years meticulously planning her big day, only to be 'let down' at the last minute. 

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    Item Reviewed: British Airways cancels all flights from major London airports after IT failure Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Abdul Sattar Qamar