BA admits ‘lessons to be learned’ from PR disaster

British Airways is to have formal meetings with industry journalists over the next few weeks, as the company tries to resurrect its battered reputation following last month’s walkout at Heathrow Airport.

BA head of corporate communications Iain Burns said the company would talk to national newspaper journalists as part of a post mortem

into what went wrong with the airline’s communications strategy during a strike that stranded 17,000 customers .

‘There are lessons to be learned and we have to make sure that our relationship with customers is improved,’ said Burns. ‘We have worked with the unions for twelve months, but perhaps we did not engage with the rationale behind the decisions they were making. We could have had a better dialogue and that is why we have put in place joint working parties with workers and their representatives.’

Burns said the company would be looking at how it could better educate its workers about the airline and the ‘business realities’ of the industry environment in which it operated. But he completely rejected the suggestion that BA’s communications with the media during the strike had been inadequate.

‘Communication with staff and with the media in fundamental terms is what we are about and we did that straight away,’ he said.

BA took another press beating this weak after announcing that passengers hit by the strike would receive £80 vouchers. Consumer watchdog the Air Transport User’s Council called the offer derisory but BA said the vouchers were enough to cover a one-way flight to many cities in Europe and were a goodwill gesture to customers.

Leaders of the T&G, GMB and Amicus, representing the British Airways workers who walked out last month over the introduction of swipe cards, said they had made progress in talks with BA this week.

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