London, December 11 2001: British Airways has just won a major business award for its services to non-English speaking customers - as well as its language programmes for schools and community groups.
Judges of the Government backed National Languages for Export Award 2001 were particularly impressed with the airline`s policy of employing cabin crew with language skills.
They were also impressed by the range of language support available in 23 tongues and by the services provided by British Airways Visitors Services, which assists passengers in 50 different languages.
The airline was also praised for “its consistent and effective implementation of a comprehensive language policy across a large company.”
Professor Stephen Hagen, a language adviser to the competition organisers, said: “This is an excellent example of a company acknowledging that you’re more likely to succeed in business if you make an effort to understand local cultures, practices and speak the local language.”
The award was specifically won by British Airways` Community Learning Centre, which has promoted languages through schools and colleges since it was established in 1999.
Manuela Minger, Languages Project Manager at British Airways, said: “We cannot ignore that 60% of our customers do not have English as their first language without putting our business at risk.
“Winning this award is fantastic for the British Airways Community Learning Centre - it also recognises all the excellent work and effort that a lot of people across serval departments have put in over the years.
“It acknowledges the fact that this is a unique programme which is valued within the company and in the wider community.”
The awards were organised by Trade Partners UK - a Government body which provides support services for UK companies trading overseas, and seeks to promote the importance of languages and cultural awareness for trade.