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Willie Walsh Takes Charge

The drive for improvement in all aspects of British Airways’ business must continue, Willie Walsh said today as he began work as the airline’s new chief executive. He praised the record of Sir Rod Eddington, and stressed his determination to realise his predecessor’s goals of a 10 per cent operating margin and a smooth relocation of the airline’s Heathrow operations to Terminal 5 in 2008.Mr Walsh, 43, has spent the five months since he joined the company meeting customers and staff across the airline.
He said: “We have made tremendous progress in the last five years but I’ve been very impressed by the fact that everyone I’ve met at British Airways believes there is room for further improvement.

“All our customers are important to us and service will be at the heart of everything we do at British Airways.Ê We must redouble our efforts to make this airline more efficient, more focused and better able to serve our customers.Ê British Airways has a renowned reputation for premium travel and my aim is to make sure that we deliver a world class experience for all.”
He said his top priority was to ensure a successful move to Terminal 5 in March 2008, in less than two and a half years’ time.Ê And he made clear his commitment to establish, with the trade unions, new working practices.

Mr Walsh said: “Terminal 5 gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to provide a world-class service for customers and to work with the unions in a way that is relevant to the 21st Century.Ê We will address working practices in a structured way.”

“There are further opportunities for efficiencies all across the airline which we will need to deliver to ensure our financial viability and to allow us to invest in the future.Ê Within a year, we will make significant investments in our Club World business class cabin, in flight entertainment and in the website.”