Alex Cruz was appointed boss of British Airways last year having headed up two budget airlines. Since he took the helm customer satisfaction has plunged
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.
Thousands of British Airways customers were facing another day of chaos on Sunday as they queued out the doors at Heathrow in order to rebook flights cancelled on Saturday
Even those with valid bookings for Sunday were barred from coming inside the Terminal 5 building (pictured) until 90 minutes before departure to avoid overcrowding
Dozens more BA flights were cancelled from Heathrow on Sunday morning, adding to the passenger blacklog
Travel experts have warned that disruption could continue well into next week as BA clears the backlogs and repositions its fleet of aircraft (pictured, passengers wait to get into Heathrow)
Those who made it inside Heathrow Terminal 5 faced yet more queues as British Airways struggled to deal with the backlog of passengers caused by the IT outage
People checking in for flights at Heathrow also faced long queues on Sunday, as more flights were cancelled and delayed
Bride left 'in tears' after IT chaos forces her to pospone dream wedding in Greece
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.
'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.
At Gatwick people attempting to rebook cancelled flights queued out of the door on Sunday, while those scheduled to leave faced delays of up to an hour on flights
British Airways had earlier said that Gatwick (pictured) would run a near-normal service on Sunday, while at Heathrow the 'majority' of flights would depart
At Gatwick (pictured) all scheduled flights departed on Sunday morning, though most were running with delays
Experts believe up to 300,000 people could eventually be affected by the glitch, meaning a compensation payout of up to £150million, the largest ever for an airline
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.
'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.
While those without a booking were told not to come to the airports, that provided no relief for foreign passengers who found themselves stranded at the airport
Travellers reported that hotels close to Heathrow and Gatwick were charging up to £2,500 for the night on Saturday, leaving many people stranded inside the terminals
People attempt to keep themselves occupied on phones and with a nap at Heathrow on Sunday as the BA travel chaos spilled over into a second day
The airline was unable to rebook flights yesterday after all of its IT systems went down, meaning the work had to be started afresh on Sunday (pictured, people asleep at Heathrow)
While British Airways IT systems are now running again, the airline has not said how long disruption will last for (pictured, people asleep on the floor at Heathrow on Sunday)
Air industry consultant John Strickland said travellers can expect knock-on effects to last well into next week.
He said: 'There's a massive knock-on effect, for customers and from the airline's point of view.
'Manpower, dealing with the backlog of aircraft out of position, parking spaces for the aircraft - it's a challenge and a choreographic nightmare.'
He added that while BA had problems with its IT systems last year, they were not on the scale of this issue.
'Heathrow ordinarily would be busy but would be exacerbated by the bank holiday, half-term and Ascension Day, which is celebrated in a lot of Europe,' Mr Strickland added.
'Even if they could quickly get the show back on the road, which is a big uncertainty, disruption could run into several days.'
Malcolm Ginsberg, editor in chief at Business Travel News, said: 'This is a very, very serious situation, one that will not be solved overnight, even once they get the technology aspects of it done - it's going to be three or four days.
'There's only full aircraft at this time of year and there will be aircraft in the wrong positions.
'Of course I feel sorry for the passengers but for the staff as well who have got to deal with it all.'
Departure boards showed flights departing from Gatwick early on Sunday, however several flights from Heathrow were cancelled.
Paul Caulfield, a passenger due to fly from Heathrow to Beijing yesterday, reported 'utter confusion' at the airport on Sunday
People filled the departure hall at Heathrow on Sunday as they tried to book themselves on new flights after all planes were grounded on Saturday following an IT failure
Up to 300,000 travellers could be affected by the BA IT failure leaving the company open to a record £150million compensation bill (pictured, passengers at Heathrow on Sunday)
Experts have said delays and cancellations could last well into next week as the airline attempts to clear a backlog of passengers (pictured, Heathrow on Sunday)
BA customers at Nice Cote D'Azur airport (pictured) also faced huge lines as they attempted to get home following the flight cancellations yesterday
A Heathrow spokesman said 'delays and cancellations of British Airways flights are expected today', while the airline said there would be 'some knock-on disruption to our schedules on Sunday, as aircraft and crews are out of position around the world.'
Musician Charles Trippy, bassist with US rock band We The Kings, complained to BA via Twitter that his instrument was missing.
The band are on the bill at the Slam Dunk Music Festival, which has shows in Leeds on Sunday and Hatfield on Monday.
Trippy tweeted: 'Dear @British-Airways please find my bass. It's getting frustrating that you don't know where it is. I kinda need it for work. No big deal'.
Paul Caulfield, another BA passenger who was due to fly from Heathrow to Beijing on Saturday, said he was still at the airport on Sunday , and facing more disruption.
He wrote: 'Still here, still utter confusion, and worse only 8 our of 26 rebooking desks are open. British Airways you should be ashamed.'
Several travellers at Heathrow said they were not told their flights were cancelled until more than an hour after the airline put out a press statement announcing the decision.
While some BA flights have been departing on time from Heathrow, dozens more were cancelled on Sunday as the IT glitch left the airline's fleet out of position
British Airways has blamed the outage on a 'power supply issue', though Union bosses say it comes after thousands of IT jobs were outsourced to India last year (pictured, people queuing at Gatwick on Sunday)
British Airways has said it is working 'as quickly as possible' to rebook passengers whose flights were cancelled, and are accommodating those who no longer wish to fly on Sunday or Monday
Student Emily Wilson said: 'We were told (it would be) about three hours for collecting bags, that all compensation will have to be done online, and that we are unable to rebook flights now because of the system being down.'
At Gatwick frustrated passengers could be seen surrounding BA staff at the check-in as they handed out letters which apologised for the cancellations and gave details about how to claim for hotels, local transport and refreshments.
Teacher Gemma Richardson, 30, who is 24 weeks pregnant, said 'it was chaos' when she and her husband arrived at the airport with their two-year-old daughter.
'It seems that because it is a bank holiday weekend there is no spare flights. We are on standby but it is very unlikely we are going anywhere,' she added.
Customers who saw their flights cancelled are being refunded or rebooked on to new services and other options are available for those who no longer want to fly.
A BA spokesman said: 'We are continuing to work hard to restore all of our IT systems and are aiming to operating a near normal schedule at Gatwick and the majority of services from Heathrow on Sunday.
'We are extremely sorry for the huge disruption caused to customers throughout Saturday and understand how frustrating their experiences will have been.
'We are refunding or rebooking customers who suffered cancellations on to new services as quickly as possible and have also introduced more flexible rebooking policies for anyone due to travel on Sunday and Monday who no longer wishes to fly to/from Heathrow or Gatwick.
'We would advise customers travelling across the Bank Holiday weekend to continue checking the status of their flight on our website, www.ba.com before coming to the airport.'
BA had issues with its online check-in systems in September and July last year, causing severe delays for passengers.