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New British Airways chief to make appearance at WTM 2011

British Airways’ newly-appointed chief executive Keith Williams has been confirmed to speak at World Travel Market 2011 as part of its Business Day program on Thursday, November 10th.

Williams took over at the airline in May when the UK flag-carrier merged with its Spanish counterpart, Iberia, in a £4.3 billion deal creating one of the world’s biggest airline groups.

The former British Airways financial director will be quizzed by WTM’s Aviation Consultant John Strickland on a wide range of issues affecting the airlines, the aviation sector, and the travel and tourism industry.

The session – titled The Big Talk with Keith Williams – is an unmissable event taking place in Platinum Suite 4 at 15:30.

Williams said: “The aviation industry is facing change and intense challenge.

“At British Airways we are part of consolidation and investing in new aircraft, products, and services to put customers at the heart of our plans.

“I look forward to discussing these and other trends at World Travel Market.”

Furthermore, a high-profile and influential industry panel will support TV star Karren Brady in the headline Business Day session – Talk Business: Fight to Survive with Karren Brady.

The industry panel for the session includes:

  • Steve Byrne, group managing director, Travel Counsellors, operating in the UK, Ireland, USA, Netherlands, Australia, South Africa, and Canada.

  • David Jones, chief executive, representing SMEs at the European Tourism Action Group.

  • Chris Photi, partner in White Hart Associates, an advisor to a diverse selection of travel industry clients from large FTSE 100 companies to small entrepreneur-owned and operated travel companies.

  • Caroline Rifkind, senior manager, Travel Division of the global professional services firm Pricewaterhousecoopers.

    The esteemed panel will help Karren advise the industry – particularly small- and medium-sized businesses – how to survive and prosper against a background of poor consumer confidence, faltering economies, and banks that refuse to give loans.

    The Talk Business session, which takes place at 11:00 am in Platinum Suite 4, will be chaired by BBC business journalist Aaron Hazelhurst.

    World Travel Market Chairman Fiona Jeffery said: “World Travel Market Business Day was extremely well received last year.

    “There’s an ever present fear that small- and medium-sized travel businesses (SMEs) in the UK and Europe will go bust.

    “Trading conditions have been even tougher this year than anticipated, intensifying the fight for customers, new business strategies, and markets.”

    World Travel Market’s Business Day launched last year’s with a keynote speech from business guru and former director of the Confederation of British Industry Lord Digby Jones.