Whilst the unofficial blame game reportedly continues apace between British Airways and BAA (‘it was alright when he handed over the keys, guv’) the decision to keep Chief Executive Willie Walsh off the airwaves was a bad move.
Hearing Jim Naughtie proclaim on Today on Friday morning: ”BA won’t come on so we’re going to speak to Ryanair” would chill the marrow of any PRO who’s tried to get a CEO to be open and transparent with the public.
BA eventually got it right by allowing Walsh to deliver his Mea Culpa moment but it was all a bit too late in the day.
The problem is the news cycle is never ending. In a 24 hour news landscape, if you don’t provide updates, or at least try, it looks at best like hubris and at worst, ignorance.
Mix in the fact that disgruntled employees were blogging on aviation forums that this was a crisis waiting to happen and angry passengers willing to be lost suitcase studies for rolling news, and you had a information vacuum which was quickly filled with speculation and bad will.
If I was Walsh, I’d sort this out from the bottom up by donning overalls and spending a week with the workers on the baggage carousels.
BA might not have been able to handle the bags and the fallout from T5, but by empathising with passengers and staff, they might be able to start to claim back their reputation.