Reply To: IAG a House of Cards?

Back to Forum


@ BigDog. – 08/05/2013 08:11 GMT


it would appear that Qatar Air is 50% state-owned by the Gulf Emirate’s government. Not exactly free from state-owned influence then.

It is a matter of public record that I am not exactly WW’s greatest living fan but he was brought in to do a job and that is what he has done: stripping out much unnecessary/unsustainable cost. One can argue until the cows come home about the methods and tactics employed just as one can about the mindset and sense of entitlement of some of those who opposed the WW strategy. Of course, BA management could have carried on as before, failing to tackle issues and we’d now have a couple of low cost carriers plus Virgin Atlantic as our national carriers. It really is much like to the fate of Rover Group: a favourite butt of ridicule and then it actually went bang, leaving a substantial hole in the economy and our current account.

Al-Baker has had the advantage of:

(a) the implicit taxpayer guarantee afforded by 50% state ownership permitting considerably lower costs of commercial borrowing;
(b) the benefits of not running a company loaded with historical restrictive working practices that should have gone with the Ark;
(c) not having to employ people with the kinds of pay and working benefits that many BT complainants about WW take for granted when applied to themselves;
(d) not running (in the words of O’Blarney) a “pension fund with wings”;
(e) not having to face low cost carriers like Flyanscare in their own back yard; and
(f) operating an airline whose aircraft are pretty much nearly all brand new.

Under the circumstances, the management challenges faced by WW (and team) and Al-Baker are like chalk and cheese. Roy Watts (the architect of BA’s renaissance as a privatised airline and NOT the late Lord King) faced a considerably easier challenge in the 1980s than does any manager of any legacy carrier right now. Pretty much the same can be said for Al-Baker.

As an adjunct to (b), (c) and (d), Qatar does not exactly have a reputation as a country that demonstrates human and workplace employment rights – unless, of course, you happen to be a member of the ruling family! So, when lauding the Qataris, it would perhaps be wiser to temper the praise with some serious reflection on the “other side” of Qatar:

NB: Edited after initial posting.

Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription

To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below