British Airways is looking to appoint a director of communications
to fill the void created by the secondment of incumbent Simon Walker to
Walker joins the Palace as communications secretary to the Royal Family
in September. His time there will last just over two years, culminating
in the celebrations for the Queen’s golden jubilee in 2002.
Walker will lead a ten-strong team handling PR for all of the immediate
royal family apart from Prince Charles, who has a separate press team at
St James’s Palace, with whom Walker will work closely.
Walker is currently arranging a series of meetings with Court
correspondents and staff from the royal household, and admits that he
has ’a lot to learn about my new role’.
Officially, BA said that no decision had been taken on appointing
Walker’s successor, but the airline is thought to be looking at external
candidates to fill one of the most prestigious posts in corporate
Walker’s close relationship with BA’s recently-ousted CEO Bob Ayling led
to speculation that a replacement would be appointed who was close to
Ayling’s successor Rod Eddington. This is now thought unlikely as
Eddington, an Australian, is understood to value highly contacts with
the UK media.
A former partner at Brunswick, Walker worked on the BA account at the
agency before joining the airline in 1998. In 1996, he spent a year on
secondment at Downing Street as a policy adviser to former Prime
Minister John Major.
At Buckingham Palace, he will replace Simon Lewis, who returns next
month to Centrica, from which he joined the Palace two years ago.
South African Walker’s career began in New Zealand as a television
reporter for TVNZ. He went on to work as director of communications for
the country’s Labour party, after which he set up his own PR and
lobbying agency, Communicor.