BA boss Willie Walsh warns against talking up gloom and doom

ABTA Travel Convention: Chief executive of British Airways’ holding company IAG, Willie Walsh, has warned that the UK is at risk of “talking ourselves into recession”.

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Walsh said that the figures he was seeing in his business were better than 2010 and significantly better than 2009 at the Abta Travel Conference in Mallorca. However, he adds, “on TV in newspapers we see doom and gloom all over the place”.

He said that the airline industry was facing a long term and a short term problem, the former being airport capacity and the latter the burden of Air Passenger Duty (APD).

Walsh railed against the coalition government and the Department for Transport for persisting with APD and pointed out air passenger growth was 4% in Europe last year but UK passengers declined 3.3%.

“We have a government policy that is very negative for transport and we don’t have one at all for aviation – one is promised for 2013.”

IAG was formed from the merger of BA and Iberia at the start of this year and both airlines retain their separate identities.

Talking to Marketing Week ahead of his presentation, Walsh said that while these two brands were traditional full service carriers , this was “not the limit to our ambition”.

He said that IAG had not ruled out owning or launching a low cost carrier and said that IAG strategy was to be “a multinational, multi-brand organisation”.

“We would launch low cost if it makes sense. We assess any opportunity to see if it will add value to the group.”

Founder of easyJet Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has just threatened to launch a new airline under the name Fastjet.

BA has recently launched its ’To Fly. To Serve’ branding campaign focusing on the airline’s heritage and the reassurance the brand offers.

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