11 MAY 2020

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Article from BTNews 11 MAY 2020

Willie Walsh & Westminster

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh appeared before the House of Commons Transport Committee 10:00 Monday morning for 90min.  The hearing overran and Mr Walsh tried to curtail the interrogation, unsuccessfully.  Parliament comes first although the usual niceties were exchanged at the conclusion See also BA Long Haul route planning and more. Also IAG first quarter results.

View the meeting here.

Mr Walsh was saved the usual intimidating Portcullis House facility, choosing a bland backdrop for the Zoom interview.  He was clearly under pressure. 

The one question that was not asked was “Who runs British Airways?” although it is true that many of the questions referred to IAG as a Group.  Mr Walsh deferred on the takeover of Air Europa, and clearly that acquisition by Iberia remains in the balance.  He confirmed that BA would stay at Gatwick (the passenger split being 14% not the 17% quoted during the briefing).

As regards quarantine he seemed to be of the view that with the PM’s comments last night it was not a starter.

Gavin Newlands the Scottish National Party shadow transport minister (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) stood out amongst members of the committee as something of an aviation specialist and a regular at Westminster networking events involving air travel. He asked Mr Walsh about the future of London City Airport, clearly Glasgow to LCY the quickest normal way to Parliament for him. “We are in discussion with the Union representatives” was the ominous response.

Sadly no press conference or briefing after the session for the media.  Whilst the labour issues were covered, or not covered, with the “dialogue taking place” answer to difficult questions, a proper chance for TV/radio or newsprint questioning seems unlikely.  Mr Walsh has taken a 20% pay cut (Holland-Kaye at Heathrow 50%).   

 

BTN lists the committee membership below, which is non-party, but with exceptions has no expertise in the area, nor the same civil servant assistance available to Government ministers. 

The support given by Spain is noted here.

Iberia – €497m profit in 2019 – €1bn in state loans with Vueling. NO REDUNDANCIES

Vueling – €240m profit in 2019 – €1bn in state loans with Iberia. NO REDUNDANCIES

Aer Lingus – €276m profit in 2019 – pilots to work 5 days on, 11 days off for the foreseeable future. 900 REDUNDANCIES

British Airways – €1.921 BILLION profit in 2019 – up to 12,000 staff made redundant and currently all 42,000 staff told to take a zero hours contract with ALL previous terms and conditions ripped up.

Remember this is a business that has £19bn in liquidity (which it announced to the stock markets just six weeks ago)

IAG is still finding €1bn in an all cash offer to buy Air Europa and is 25% owned by Qatar Airways

Huw Merriman (Chair)  C Bexhill and Battle
Ruth Cadbury L Brentford and Isleworth
Lilian Greenwood L Nottingham South
Simon Jupp  C East Devon
Robert Largan C High Peak
Chris Loder  C West Dorset
Karl McCartney  C Lincoln
Grahame Morris  L Easington
Gavin Newlands  SNP Paisley and Renfrewshire North
Greg Smith  C Buckingham
Sam Tarry  L Ilford South

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All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum


James Cole, London

Willie did not "confrm that BA would stay at Gatwick" as you report here. He said that he would personally like to see BA restart flying a LGW in the future. That future could be some years away.


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