Willie's woes

There must be moments as he sits in his eyrie over at Speedbird House, that poor old BA CEO Willie Walsh wonders why on earth he ever agreed to take on the top job at the World's Favourite Airline. Sure it's a cool position with an annual screw of around £900,000, all the hot towels he could ever wish for and the privilege of turning left turn whenever he enters an aircraft. But the grief levels are ridiculous.

Since he took over the hot seat just over a year ago, one disaster after another has struck his company: terrorist threats, peasouper fog, airlines becoming global warming public enemy Number One, fielding the biggest pension deficit in the FTSE 100, in-flight upholstery sprinkled liberally with Polonium 210 and allegations of fare fixing. Next thing it'll be a plague of frogs in the jet intakes… Little wonder that he himself says the industry lurches from crisis to crisis.

Now, of course, all his cabin crew are about to walk out over a new sick pay deal. They have already reduced the number of sickies chucked from an almost terminal 22 per annum to a merely seedy 12, but the new target of seven is proving too strenuous an exercise for BA's trolley dudes and dollies.

Over and above this, most people will agree that the romance has been sucked out of air travel. Taking a plane is such a dreadful experience in 2007 that most folk would rather get on a London Underground train or even a bus than take to the skies via Heathrow or Gatwick. MT wishes Willie a nice weekend. He strikes one as an optimist - his fave film is The Life of Brian, so he's clearly capable of looking on the bright side of life.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

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