LEADER: BAA flies in the face of common sense

There are currently few more emotive conversational gambits than the state of our airports. It is no coincidence that BAA has come under a torrent of criticism at a time when many of us brave the queues at British airports before jetting off to the sun.

Danny Rogers, Editor, <em>PRWeek</em>
Danny Rogers, Editor, PRWeek

But one can’t help wondering whether there’s also a connection between the myriad negative headlines this week – ‘BAA in court to beat environmental protest’, ‘Ryanair cuts flights as it attacks BAA on costs’, ‘Livingstone talks of Heathrow “shame”’ – and PRWeek’s own lead story on 15 June: ‘BAA looks at sweeping cuts to comms team’.

BAA told us this week that no cuts have been made so far, but declined to rule them out. And it is a fact that since Spanish firm Ferrovial bought the airport operator in June last year, several senior communicators have left BAA.

Indeed, it seems crazy that following the controversial takeover, and at a time of security risk and disruption, BAA should not instead be investing heavily in comms resource. One also wonders whether any comms experts were privy to BAA’s decision to take out a High Court injunction against the Camp for Climate Action demo planned for mid-August; it seems to play into the hands of the demonstrators.

BAA has the task of restoring confidence in Britain’s airport infrastructure. It talk of a ‘£9.3bn investment over the next three years’, but Heathrow feels pretty dreadful at the moment, which grates all the more when so many people attest to London’s status as a global business and tourism hub.

The Government must also take some responsibility for selling a critical part of our national infrastructure to a foreign owner. Politicians of all parties have also failed, over many decades, to encourage sufficient investment in the UK’s overall transport system.

It is ultimately Britain’s reputation that is at stake.

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