THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Difference and Similarity
Britblog Roundup 229

Should BA survive?

British Airways needs job cuts to survive, CEO says.

It pays to stop from time to time, look at your business and ask "If I were starting today, is this how I would do it?" If you apply this test to BA, the answer is certainly "no." In many respects, BA is the opposite of what you would do.

I stopped flying it years ago. It is a complacent organisation, long buoyed up by its heritage of flag carrier slots out of the worlds busiest (and shabbiest) international hub. It is almost heroically indifferent to its customers. Outside of a long marriage, it is hard to be taken more for granted than you are when you fly BA. Flights are routinely unpunctual (in a business where it takes real effort to stand out negatively). Its domestic terminal at Heathrow has the rancid atmosphere of a provincial bus station. The much trumpeted launch of its new international terminal merely reinforced the nation's reputation for organisational incompetence.

Generally, as a company, it has what can only be described as "a bad attitude." As a frequent flyer and a patriotic Briton, I would be sorely tempted to crack open the champagne in celebration if it were to collapse and cease to embarrass the nation by its frumpy mediocrity.

Having said that, for the sake of the poor shareholders, I hope its management can turn it round. Recessions are precious opportunities to shake up ossified businesses. To put it another way, if it were not for recessions, all businesses would eventually become as bad as BA. In current circumstances, if it is not radically transformed in the next few months, it will never survive. It is close to collapse, perhaps, but it is also closer to salvation than it has been since it was formed. How so? Its situation is now so dire that even a trade unionist ought to be able to grasp it. At such points, great things can be achieved.