AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file
London - British Airways’ epic meltdown over a busy holiday weekend further fanned public outrage of an industry infamous for its focus on cost cuts over customer service, leaving the UK carrier scrambling to explain how a local computer outage could lead to thousands of stranded passengers.

Amid United Airlines’ dragging fiasco, mass cancellations at Delta Air Lines and US concerns about terrorists using laptops to down planes, the global aviation industry hardly needed another blow.

But then on Saturday morning, a brief power surge knocked out British Airways’ communications systems, grounding the carrier’s entire London operations, leading to days of chaos and putting the new chief executive in the hot seat. A full flight schedule was due to resume yesterday.

With nearly 600 flights cancelled and luggage unable to be dispersed, images and horror stories quickly coursed through social media. Damages for rebooking and compensating customers is estimated at about 100 million euros (R1.44 billion), or about 3 percent of the annual operating profit of parent IAG.

Read also: British Airways shifts to recovery mode

The shares fell the most in almost seven months as trading resumed in London after Monday’s holiday.

The image damage could be even greater as British Airways appears to have no idea how it all happened.