The chief executive of British Airways has promised to compensate customers who have had their data stolen in what he described as a sophisticated breach of the company’s security systems.

Álex Cruz apologised on Friday after it was revealed that about 380,000 payment cards had been compromised after a theft of data from the BA website and app over a two-week period.

“The first thing to say is that I am extremely sorry for what happened,” Cruz said on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. “We will work with any customer affected and we will compensate any financial hardship suffered.”

Shares in the owner of BA, IAG, fell nearly 3% on Friday morning as investors weighed the impact of the hack on ticket sales.

The breach took place between 10.58pm BST on 21 August and 9.45pm on 5 September. The airline said personal and financial details of customers making bookings had been compromised.

Cruz said the attack had not been a breach of encryption but it was a “sophisticated” effort by criminals. He said he would not go into much detail about the nature of what happened because the police were investigating.

The data theft, one of the most serious to hit a UK company, deals another blow to BA’s reputation. The airline experienced an IT disaster last year when a power surge in its control centre near Heathrow caused a global flight interruption and left tens of thousands of passengers stranded, most notably at London airports.

Cruz said the company was operating profitably and would expand its services and customer care. “We will get through this.”

He said BA had a network of partners that monitored websites around the world. A partner alerted the airline to the cyber-attack on 5 September and an investigation was launched. “The moment that actual customer data had been compromised, that’s when we began immediate communication to our customers,” Cruz said.

The airline placed advertisements in newspapers on Friday apologising for the breach.

The Information Commissioner’s Office is investigating the breach and the airline could potentially be fined.


Sarah Marsh

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
British Airways data breach: what to do if you have been affected
From which payments have been compromised to future bookings and compensation

Staff and agencies

07, Sep, 2018 @7:55 AM

Article image
Lush website hack sees customers defrauded

Some customers who shopped online with Lush between October and January have had their card details stolen

Mark King and Charles Arthur

21, Jan, 2011 @1:29 PM

Article image
EasyJet reveals cyber-attack exposed 9m customers' details
Airline apologises after credit card details of about 2,200 passengers were stolen

Jasper Jolly

19, May, 2020 @11:13 AM

Article image
Tell us: have you been affected by the British Airways data breach?
We want to hear from you if the airline has contacted you or you have encountered problems after contacting your bank

Guardian readers

07, Sep, 2018 @8:39 AM

Article image
Q&A: what if I have been hit by the Carphone Warehouse data breach?
Personal details of up to 2.4m customers may have been accessed by hackers. This is what you need to look out for if you think you may have been targeted

Miles Brignall

11, Aug, 2015 @9:47 AM

Article image
BA fined record £20m for customer data breach
Personal details of more than 400,000 customers accessed by hackers in 2018

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

16, Oct, 2020 @11:02 AM

Article image
BA customers' hacked credit card details have probably already been sold
Hacked data – including CVV codes – worth about £20m on dark web, cybersecurity experts say

Rob Davies

07, Sep, 2018 @4:45 PM

Identity fraud website shut down in global police sting

Sixty people arrested after closure of Darkmarket forum where people traded in stolen personal data

Press Association

17, Oct, 2008 @8:53 AM

Article image
Why won’t Amex or BA give us our £1,350 flight refund?
For almost six months we have been caught between the airline and American Express

Zoe Wood

26, Jul, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Ryanair launches own prepay card as only way for customers to avoid fee

Passengers will have to buy flight with 'Ryanair Cash Passport' or pay £6 surcharge as airline flies in face of OFT findings

Lisa Bachelor

14, Sep, 2011 @1:22 PM