BAA looks at sweeping cuts to comms team

Airports operator BAA is considering swingeing cuts to its 90-strong comms division after receiving advice from management consultancy McKinsey.

Sources close to the airport operator told PRWeek that BAA was still considering whether to implement consolidation in the number of comms personnel. A ­recruitment freeze is also ­understood to be in place.

BAA controls seven airports in the UK, including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. Its head of comms Duncan Bonfield could not be reached for comment as PRWeek went to press and the Heathrow press office also failed to deny that staff cuts were being considered, despite several calls.

The airport operator was bought by Spanish construction and infrastructure firm Ferrovial in June last year for £17.3bn. Several senior PROs have left since then, including director of corporate and regulatory affairs Ian Hargreaves, public ­affairs manager Adam Higgitt and Heathrow head of media relations Jo Bird. All ­declined to comment when approached by PRWeek.

BAA has occasionally ­required significant press ­office resources. It hired the Maitland Consultancy to ­restore credibility after last summer’s security scares and to help see off proposals that it should be broken up (PRWeek, 19 October 2006).

BAA plans to spend £9.3bn in the next three years developing leading London airports. This week, it came out in support of plans for a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow.

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