Now BA chairman Broughton takes US government to task

Clearly emboldened by his triumphs at Liverpool, Martin Broughton is now raging about 'redundant' US security checks.

by James Taylor
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
BA chairman Martin Broughton has obviously got a taste for anti-Americanism: flush with the success of becoming the football world's most unlikely cult hero, thanks to his sterling efforts in driving Messrs Hicks and Gillett out of Liverpool FC, he's now setting his sights on an even bigger target: the US Government. Well, to be more precise, the US Transport Security Administration, and the stringent security checks they demand of all passengers flying from the UK to the US. Broughton apparently told a conference yesterday that some elements of this were 'completely redundant'. What next - a tilt at Barack Obama?

According to the FT, the BA chairman told an industry conference yesterday that things like forcing passengers to take their shoes off and screening laptops separately should be scrapped completely. The US ramped up security requirements earlier this year following a bomb threat. But Bruiser Broughton said that the UK should stop 'kowtowing' to pressure from our transatlantic chums - particularly since the US doesn't actually do any of this stuff with passengers on its internal domestic flights. 'America does not do internally a lot of the things they demand that we do,' he apparently said. 'We shouldn't stand for that.'

It might seem surprising that the usually low-profile BA chairman (and former BAT fag-peddler) is being quite so punchy towards a country that's so important for BA's traffic. But perhaps he's got a taste for standing up to Americans these days, after the rather dramatic events at Liverpool recently. Broughton, of course, played a key role in forcing the club's hated American owners to hot-foot it out of the club £140m poorer, a feat that lead to him being saluted with football-style chants of 'Broughton, Broughton' as he left the high court. It would take a level-headed corporate exec not to enjoy that kind of acclamation.

If you've experienced the rigours of a full-scale security pat-down (or even a full body cavity search) on the way to the US recently, we imagine you'll feel similarly warm towards Broughton if his comments encourage the UK authorities to start relaxing the rules a bit. BAA boss Colin Matthews (who today reported a big reduction in losses, with revenues up 4.4% on higher passenger numbers) backed him up today, suggesting that BAA could come up with a better regime for passengers if it was left to its own devices.

Although if this causes BA to lose any friends within the US authorities, particularly as it confirms this tie-up with American Airlines, BA shareholders may not be similarly exultant...

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