British Airways IT Systems Failure – 7 incidences and 2 years of misery for customers.

Think cirrus/British airwaysblog/alexcruz

Here at Think Cirrus, we’re surprised at how many problems BA are experiencing. We know that problems and glitches are inevitable and unpredictable, however, dealing with the problems are imperative for such a well-known brand.   An international business operating in over 200 airports across the world, and 2 years on they are still experiencing IT incidences due to their new system FLY. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what has been reported upon so far as well as potential preventative measures.

Simple Facts

Scouring the internet for facts and figures hasn’t been easy. Buzz words and phrases such as ‘cyber-attack’ and ‘outsourced IT to India’ have dominated the headlines within more news articles and content than we care to share. So, for us to form a well-rounded opinion we needed to understand the timeline of events:

  1. October 2015 – BA Launches new system FLY
  2. June 2016 – shortly after the FLY systems was fully installed, it stopped working due to an IT glitch.
  3. July 2016 – IT incident One
  4. July 2016 – IT incident Two
  5. July 2016 – IT Incident Three
  6. May 2017 – BA’s global computer network shut down after a power outage causing hundreds of flights to be delayed or cancelled. With the problem running on for several days, with flights cancelled from Heathrow and Gatwick over the bank holiday weekend and half term.
  7. 3rd August 2017– BA were unable to check in bags and print off boarding passes for over an hour as IT system ‘went down’

The FLY Check in system has crashed 7 times since BA finished installing it at over 200 airports last year.

Alex Cruz – ‘No Evidence of cyber attacks’

Alex Cruz the Chairman and CEO, made the decision to axe 700 IT workers and outsource IT services to India. Critics say that this decision has cost him dearly and had contributed to the issues that BA customers are painfully experiencing. He was asked savagely by the press whether he should resign and that got us thinking – how qualified is Alex to make decisions about outsourcing IT provisions for such a large organisation.

Alex Cruz – No use in my resigning

Alex Cruz – the CV

  • Alex began his professional career at American Airlines in 1995, spending half his 10 years at the group with its travel technology arm, Sabre, in London, working with a range of European airlines.
  • In 2000, he became a partner at Arthur D Little before setting up his own aviation consulting firm in 2002. In 2005, he joined Accenture as its head of aviation.
  • In 2006 he founded Clickair, a Barcelona-based airline, merging the airline with Vueling in 2009 and becoming Vueling’s Chairman and CEO.
  • Vueling was acquired by International Airline Group (IAG) in 2013, with Alex joining the IAG Management Committee.
  • In April 2016, Alex was appointed Chairman and CEO of British Airways.

From the summary above It seems Alex does have some extensive experience in the world of aviation technology.


What is FLY? And why is it causing problems?

Exploring the Amadeus Altéa Departure Control System

Amadeus Altea Customer Management Solution – Part 2

FLY is a bespoke departure control and customer management solution – which helps airlines to effectively manage their passengers as well as their aircrafts. It’s neat and it seems to be effective on paper, but has been a nightmare.  Back in 2012 – the Amadeus Altea system crashed because of a Linux bug, but no such claims have been made recently. So, I guess we’ll never know why the crashes happened? Will we?

Home Office Systems affected too?

A computer glitch at British Airways managed to take the entire Home Office no fly list off-line – and it was two days before it could be fixed.


A spokesperson from BA said: ‘Our worldwide check-in System has been in place since last summer and so far, more than 50 million customers have used it successfully…’

So, from our analysis, it seems that the Altea Fly system, which is managed by Amadeus IT, with its Head Quarters in Madrid, are to blame for BA’s crashes. Right? A simple management system which is so vital to the operations of many significant air lines around the world, use the same system. Which also begs the question – are they monopolising the  market? Is this healthy?

So, Amadeus, the IT solutions company; are they really to blame? Are we a country of prejudice reporters and journalists if we jump straight to the conclusion that outsourced Indian IT support is to blame?

Final Thought – Preventative Measures

Is this a classic tale of system updates? Yes, we agree that when a new system is implemented some teething glitches are to be expected, however two years down the line, these are no longer valid reasons for system failures. It seems that regular testing and updating could be the issue. Now supporting the airline industry isn’t easy because it is a 24-hour service. Which begs the question – when do you get the time to update without disruption to services? That’s inevitable, right? So, could BA plan delays? Would more planned communication help? What happens when it is completely unexpected? Do we continue to suffer?

We’ve decided that there isn’t a clear answer here. Sometimes technological glitches just can’t be predicted.  However, brand damage has been significant – so is this another job for the communications team? So many questions – not enough answers. And on that note – we’re going to carry on with our day jobs and hope that BA don’t suffer in the long run and their customers don’t suffer either.

Related Posts