British Airways CEO Alex Cruz apologized Friday, telling a radio interviewer, "We will work with any customer affected and we will compensate any financial hardship suffered".
Shares in BA's parent company International Consolidated Airlines Group PLC (LON:IAG) dropped 2% to 666p on Friday afternoon trading after admitting the personal and financial details of customers who made bookings through ba.com or the airline's mobile app between August 21 and September 5 were stolen.
The airline had launched an investigation and was communicating with affected customers. "We take the protection of our customers' data very seriously", read the official statement.
BA said it was investigating the vast breach "as a matter of urgency", while the National Crime Agency and National Cyber Security Centre are also assessing the hack.
Cruz said the airline immediately contacted customers when the extent of the breach became clear.
The airline has notified police and relevant authorities.
He added that no passport data had been obtained in what he called a "very sophisticated, malicious criminal attack".
Will I have to get a new card?
It said customers due to travel could check in online as normal as the incident had been resolved.
"Anyone concerned they could be at risk of fraud should consider changing their online passwords, monitor bank and other online accounts and be wary of emails regarding the breach as scammers may try and take advantage of it".
He said hackers stole enough information to use bank cards to make purchases. The airline said affected customers should follow their bank or provider's recommended advice.
British Airways experienced an IT-related crisis in May previous year when roughly 75,000 passengers were stranded after the airline cancelled more than 700 flights over three days because of system problems.
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