Friday 2 August 2019 8:28 am

British Airways to fight data breach fine as parent company profits stay flat

British Airways will “vigorously defend itself” against its £183m fine by authorities for a data breach in which more than 400,000 customers’ information was stolen.

The airline this morning said it would use all means at its disposal to avoid the record-breaking penalty.

Read more: British Airways owner set for record £183m fine after 2018 data breach

The news came as British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group’s (IAG) reported second quarter results. It told investors profit remained flat compared to last year, despite troubles such as the rising cost as fuel.

Shares in IAG rose 4.5 per cent in early morning trading.

The figures

IAG reported pre-tax profit of €806m, a 0.4 per cent rise from the same time last year. Revenue rose eight percent to €12.1bn.

However, this did not include exceptional items such as the fine from the information commissioner’s office (ICO). With the added costs factored in, it said profit had fallen 40 per cent year-on-year.

Net debt fell more than a quarter to €4.8bn, while fuel unit costs for the quarter rose 12.4 per cent.

Why it’s interesting

The ICO’s fine against British Airways was a landmark decision from a regulator that has battled perceptions of being toothless in the past.

But the penalty has hit the airline’s owner hard, contributing to a 40 per cent drop in pre-tax profit.

Shareholders were pleased to see that IAG had nevertheless held its own with extra charges set aside. The news comes during a challenging period in the aviation industry, in which high fuel prices and disruption have caused other airlines’ operations to crumble.

What IAG said

Read more: British Airways data breach: How hackers stole customers’ data

Chief executive Willie Walsh said: “Despite fuel cost headwinds, we delivered a good performance. At constant currency, fuel unit costs were up 6.3 per cent while passenger unit revenue increased 1.1 per cent, benefiting from the timing of Easter.

“This highlights, once again, that our unique structure and diverse brand portfolio underpins our financial resilience and ability to deliver robust results”.