BAA hires Bird to handle Heathrow/T5 media job

British Airports Authority (BAA) has hired Luther Pendragon associate partner Joanne Bird to head Heathrow’s six-strong press office as construction on its fifth terminal continues.

Reporting to BAA Heathrow director of communications Jon Phillips, Bird joins after Mark Pearson’s decision to leave BAA after four years to work as a freelance.

Among Bird’s responsibility will be handling intense media interest in Heathrow’s fifth terminal, due for completion in spring 2008, but Phillips said ‘there is a huge investment in the rest of Heathrow that tends to get overshadowed by T5’.

Bird will take up the position in January 2005. She was public affairs manager at the Strategic Rail Authority before joining PR consultancy Luther Pendragon in 2000.

Phillips said relevant media for Heathrow covered the full spectrum from international and national and broadcast media to local newspapers and specialist technical trade titles.

He refused to rule out using Pearson on a freelance basis in the future, saying he has particular strengths in crisis comms. Before BAA, Pearson was a senior press officer at HM Prison Service until 2000.

BAA, which operates six press offices for the seven airports that it owns in the UK, continues to hunt for a group head of media relations to replace Caroline Corfield who left in August to offer maternity cover for Energy Saving Trust head of corporate and public affairs Kate Hinton (PRWeek, 20 August).

The recruitment process is expected to be completed before Christmas, said BAA group director of corporate comms Duncan Bonfield, although he added that a shortlist of candidates was yet to be decided.

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