BA's Walsh Leads in T5 Blame Game

Last Updated Apr 10, 2008 11:11 AM EDT

The aftershock at T5 continued this week, with each day adding fresh hell for beleaguered BA boss Willie Walsh and landlord BAA. Reports vary as to the longer-term effects of T5's catastrophic scheduling delays, computer glitches and complaints on both businesses.

But the cost, according to BA, will be around £16m and the reputation damage to the airline considerable, its so-called employee success formula, the "BA Way" now the punchline of a bad joke.

Naturally, there have been calls for Walsh's resignation - in an open letter, the British Air Line Pilots Association called for a "fundamental change of attitude" from the senior management at BA. Meanwhile, House of Commons' Transport Committee will be holding its own investigation into the T5 disaster on 7 May.

But some appreciated Walsh's 'mea culpa' stance. We know it's the board's job to take the flak and we are accustomed to the top brass taking the credit when projects go well but heartfelt apologies are rare. Coach and author Marshall Goldsmith would heartily approve: his book, "What Got You Here Won't Get You There", is big on the value of the apology.

BA has a lot to be sorry for: post 9/11, it has faced a pensions crisis, catering strikes, green and nimby protests, fuel price hikes, "OpenSkies" mud-slinging and yet further disruption due to terror threats. Yet Walsh has pressed on, building on a reputation as a turnaround expert / hatchet man (take your pick) at Aer Lingus.

Perhaps his lead-from-the-front attitude will see him through this time, perhaps not. But at least he's visible.

Now has anyone heard from BAA's chief, serial job-hopper Colin Matthews?