Monday Briefing – 10 September 2018

Welcome to our weekly Monday Briefing on the main developments in air travel in London and around the world, as published every Monday morning at 06:00 BST.

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British Airways CEO Alex Cruz Media Appearances Friday 7 September 2018
British Airways CEO Alex Cruz Media Appearances Friday 7 September 2018 (Image Credit: BBC, CNN, ITV News)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 10 September 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week.

BA Customer Data Breach – Additional Guidance

BA has over the weekend updated its advice page on its well publicised data breach.

Additional advice published on Sunday 9 September includes:

– Telephone numbers provided during the booking process were not compromised.

– Customers who used PayPal to pay for a flight will not have had their PayPal accounts compromised, but there is some risk that personal information was accessed.

– Passengers who used Apple Pay to pay for a flight through the mobile app are not affected.

– Passengers who attempted to pay for a flight but the transaction was unsuccessful would have had their data compromised.

– Passengers who made changes to their bookings free of charge would not have had their data compromised.

– Bookings cancelled or refunded during the breach are not affected.

The Information Commissioner’s Office and the National Cyber Security Centre (part of GCHQ) will also be providing periodic updates.

We will also keep our page updated as the story develops.

The World’s Favourite Headline

BA has long found itself at the top of the news agenda. Sometimes for reasons outside of its control. Other times for reasons very much so.

There is often a theme “Of all the things that could wrong it had to be..”

Terminal 5 was hailed as a much-needed solution to significant baggage handling problems at Heathrow. On its opening day in March 2008, the baggage system failed.

After the IT breakdown of last May, BA now faces itself under scrutiny again over its IT. As with any other aspect of its operation, it cannot take passengers’ confidence for granted.

Airlines are particularly vulnerable to IT woes. They have lots of legacy systems that have to interface with many third parties. Unlike banks, they cannot take systems down over public holidays.

Looking at this purely from a PR perspective, it can be said is that BA has learned from the IT breakdown of last May. It made CEO Alex Cruz immediately available for interviews throughout Friday. It didn’t just leave angry passengers to fill hours of rolling news coverage. The Conservative party civil war also kept the story off the front pages over the weekend.

Alex Cruz was again something of a lightening rod for criticism. However, the reality is more complex than that. BA is of course a subsidiary of International Airlines Group. With incidents like this it’s not clear where responsibility ultimately lies.

Whilst customers rightfully expect BA to resolve the issue, it’s not clear who is ultimately responsible for cyber security at BA. Many of BA’s back office functions are outsourced to IAG’s Global Business Services division. Witness the following comments from IAG’s Director Of Strategy Robert Boyle at its last Capital Markets Day:

International Airlines Group Capital Markets Day Slide
International Airlines Group Capital Markets Day Slide (Image Credit: International Airlines Group)

Now, I cannot stand up here and talk about IT without addressing the issue of cyber threats. Clearly, we are a high-profile target, as any big business is, and we take this very seriously. Over the last probably 18 months or so, we have had another hard look at this to try and ensure we were doing everything in best practice. And we have made sure we have proper cyber incident plans in place throughout the business. We have also moved the monitoring security stuff fully up to a complete fully resourced 24/7 setup. We are working with some of the best partners in the business in cyber security, and we deploy the latest technology in terms of robotics and penetration testing and intrusion detection scanning.

IAG should provide an update to its investors on this issue when it announces its third quarter results on Friday 26 October 2018 and during its next Capital Markets Day in early November.

In case you missed it

BA upgrades Club Europe catering from this coming Wednesday 12 September (London Air Travel)

BA suspends London Heathrow – Muscat for the winter season. (London Air Travel)

BA secures a codeshare agreement with Vistara in India. (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

As was widely publicised a couple of weeks ago the opening of The Elizabeth Line (formerly known as Crossrail) is going to be delayed by around 9 months. London Reconnections has detailed account of the reasons behind the delay. (London Reconnections)

A fund-raising bid has been launched for a new low cost long-haul airline to based in Basel. (Financial Times)

Late Post Publication Updates:

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

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