British Airways Boss Apologises for Data Breach
The chief executive of British Airways has apologised for what he has called a very sophisticated breach of the firm’s security systems. Alex Cruz told the BBC that hackers carried out a “sophisticated, malicious criminal attack” on its website.
The airline said personal and financial details of customers making bookings had been compromised.
About 380,000 transactions were affected, but the stolen data did not include travel or passport details. BA said the breach took place between 22:58 BST on 21 August and 21:45 BST on 5 September.
Mr Cruz told the BBC’s Today programme: “We’re extremely sorry. I know that it is causing concern to some of our customers, particularly those customers that made transactions over BA.com and app. “We discovered that something had happened but we didn’t know what it was [on Wednesday evening]. So overnight, teams were trying to figure out the extent of the attack.
“The first thing was to find out if it was something serious and who it affected or not. The moment that actual customer data had been compromised, that’s when we began immediate communication to our customers.”
BA said all customers affected by the breach had been contacted on Thursday night. The breach only affects people who bought tickets during the timeframe provided by BA, and not on other occasions.
Mr Cruz added: “At the moment, our number one purpose is contacting those customers that made those transactions to make sure they contact their credit card bank providers so they can follow their instructions on how to manage that breach of data.”
The airline has taken out adverts apologising for the breach in Friday’s newspapers.
BA Crew Christmas Strikes Suspended
Planned strikes by British Airways cabin crew on Christmas Day and Boxing Day have been suspended, the Unite union has said. Employees were due to walk out in a row over pay and conditions.
The union said 4,500 workers employed on so-called “Mixed Fleet” contracts – who have joined since 2010 – were on lower pay than other staff. Talks at conciliation service Acas have led to a revised offer which will be put to a ballot of union members. The airline said it welcomed the move. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “We now have a new offer from the company which we will put to our members.
The two day strike over Christmas and Boxing Day is now suspended. It will be for our members now to decide if British Airways has done enough to meet their concerns.”
Mr McCluskey told the BBC that “Innocent members of the public always suffer when there’s a dispute. Any dispute is only brought about because there is a failure between management and the industrial relations within that company.”
The union had said earnings for Mixed Fleet staff were advertised between £21,000 and £25,000 but, in reality, started at just over £12,000 plus £3 an hour flying pay.
Unite had earlier said that half of Mixed Fleet staff had taken second jobs to make ends meet. Some had even said they had to sleep in cars between flights, because they could not afford the petrol to get home.
BA Owner IAG Reports Large Increase in Profits
British Airways and Iberia’s parent company IAG reported a 64% rise in yearly pre-tax profits to €1.8bn (£1.4bn), helped in part by lower fuel prices. Fuel costs for the year were down 6.3%, and would have been 17.2% lower, but for a rise in the value of the dollar.
IAG reports figures in euros but buys its fuel in dollars. Over the year the euro fell in value against the dollar. IAG said it had “undoubtedly been a good year”. However, it added it had also been challenging because of the big movements in the currency and fuel markets and that “the benefits gained from lower fuel prices have been partially offset by the stronger US dollar”.
The price of oil has dropped around 50% over the year.
IAG, whose airlines also include Vueling and Aer Lingus, said it was expecting next year’s full-year profit to show similar growth to this year’s. The company said it was on course to make an operating profit of €3.2bn next year.
A number of top 100 UK company heads have been giving their views this week as to whether or not the UK should stay in the European Union.
Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive told the BBC he didn’t think it would make much difference one way or the other to his business: “We’ve undertaken a risk analysis and we don’t believe a vote will have a material impact on our business.” He also repeated his previous view on the chances of a third runway at Heathrow, saying he did not think one would be built because the government continued to delay decision making.
British Airways Owner IAG Upgrades Profit Forecast
The parent company of British Airways, IAG, has upgraded its profit forecast after it reported a 30% rise in third quarter profits. Operating profits at IAG rose to €900m (£708m) in the three months to 30 September, up from €690m a year ago.
IAG added that it expected an improvement in annual operating profits of €550m-€600m, compared with previous guidance of a rise of at least €500m.
In addition to BA, IAG also owns the Spanish airlines Iberia and Vueling.
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh, said: “We continued to grow capacity efficiently and both our non-fuel and fuel unit cost performances were strong with the latter boosted by the introduction of new, more efficient aircraft into our fleet.”