The cries for Mr Walsh to quit rose to a clamour at this week’s BA AGM and it’s hard to see how long he can resist them.
At the same time the futility, even incompetence of the airline’s sales policy shines like a beacon of idiocy - only yesterday in Los Angeles BA announced it is giving away 1000 seats to businessmen to “persuade them of the value of face-to-face meetings”.
Do the Sales Wizards at BA really imagine that businessmen don’t know these things and that they aren’t travelling BA in particular for entirely different reasons? Is giving seats away the height of brain power in BA Sales?
Such stupidity lies at the root of BA’s problems. They let the drivers and the MBA wallahs run the airline. Don’t they watch TV or read the business pages? What are the commonalities shared by the Dragon’s Den gurus, by Sir Alan Sugar, by Sir John Harvey Jones from another generation, or by Stuart Rose or Philip Green? They all know that if their sales teams aren’t functioning at their very best, ie selling, not giving the stuff away, their enterprises are doomed. (If you want a great example look at M&S. Following a short-term reduction in prices to get the punters back through the doors, Stuart Rose has driven revenues and profits by improving the product, the buying experience and the confidence in the brand. Compare that to Paddy Survival’s strategy.
This blog has been saying for months, even years that the short term solution to BA’s problems, once they’ve raised enough money to finance the next few months, is to get rid of the CEO, give the entire passenger handling job to an agency and hire a team of old-fashioned sales people.
Anyone who, like me, spent 30 years after the airline in business, could nominate such a team within a week. They’d be superannuated grey-beards who’d have to be tempted back from the golf course but salespeople don’t change underneath. They remain people who can inspire and motivate others to want to walk through walls to meet their sales objectives. In 30 years of making television and video programmes, many for big blue-chip companies, I’ve met scores of such people. They’re out there and they could turn BA round.