Less than half of the public (48 per cent) supports the merger of British Airways and Iberia, according to new research. The majority of respondents to PRWeek/OnePoll's survey - 57 per cent - thought the merger would make no difference to the airline industry as a whole, but marginally more respondents - 23 per cent - thought it would be negative for the industry than the 20 per cent who thought it would prove to be positive.
The figures suggest the public is loyal to the national brand, but that the reputation of BA and CEO Willie Walsh has suffered as a result of industrial disputes.
When asked what they associated with the airline, 23 per cent of the 3,000 respondents picked 'strikes', 26 per cent chose 'quality' and 21 per cent picked 'Britishness'.
And when asked what they most associated with Walsh, 44 per cent of respondents chose long-running staff disputes, ahead of 13 per cent who associated him with taking BA into profit after record losses. Fifty-five per cent did not believe Walsh was the right man to head the new merged airline.
Under the merger plans, BA will retain its identity and management team, but the company as a whole will trade on the London Stock Exchange as International Airlines Group.
Only 30 per cent of respondents supported this decision, with 61 per cent saying it should trade on the London Stock Exchange as British Airways. And just 26 per cent chose BA as the airline of which they had the highest opinion. Nearly 50 per cent selected rival Virgin.
- Survey of 3,000 members of the public conducted by global research agency OnePoll.
HOW I SEE IT - Susie Tempest, Head of PR, Hills Balfour
The results of the survey are twofold. On the one hand, despite BA's recent problems and particularly staff strikes, there does seem to be staunch support for the airline and for it to maintain its identity, with nearly two-thirds of respondents wanting the company to remain British Airways.
Yet the majority of those surveyed have not changed their opinion of the airline since merger talks began and, likewise, trust the new brand as much as British Airways. The results show that what has not been clearly communicated to date is that both airlines will maintain their brand identities and IAG is simply the overall trading name for the group.
The merger will help BA to spread its wings to Latin America through Iberia's existing network - great news for British travellers. Although BA has some work to do in communicating the full story on the merger, our national carrier is British to the core with a strong brand and will continue to be so for many years to come.
Since merger talks with Iberia began, how has your opinion changed
Got worse 25%
Stayed the same 68%
BA CEO Willie Walsh
Got worse 23%
Stayed the same 70%
What difference will the BA/Iberia merger make to the airline industry?
Improve it 20%
A negative one 23%
DIVIDED SUPPORT - 52% did not support the merger of British Airways and Iberia
SAFETY RECORD - 84% of respondents considered British Airways' aircraft to be 'safe'
REASSURED - 79% believed the new International Airlines Group would be as safe at BA
UNKNOWN BOSS - 25% of respondents said they had not heard of BA chief executive Willie Walsh
VALUE FOR MONEY - 4% said they associated British Airways with offering 'value for money'