Page last updated at 07:15 GMT, Monday, 7 April 2008 08:15 UK

Pilots urge BA leadership change

Heathrow Terminal 5
Balpa says "there is something very wrong" at BA

Airline pilots' union Balpa has said the British Airways brand has become a "laughing stock" and has urged a change in management style.

It said recent problems at Heathrow's new Terminal 5, where baggage problems caused flights to be cancelled, were "symptomatic" of problems at BA.

Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan said the company needed to be led in a different way.

But he said sacking chief executive Willie Walsh was not the answer.

"It is a whole thing about style, about arrogance, about not listening and about not taking your workforce with you," Mr McAuslan told the BBC.

"A company of this size, representing this country needs to have a different approach to management," he said.

In a letter to the Financial Times, the union said BA's poor performance had affected the UK's reputation.

It cited poor punctuality, falling standards, and increasing amounts of lost baggage as examples of problems at the airline.

Baggage backlog

Problems with the new baggage system at Terminal 5 meant hundreds of flights had to be cancelled and a backlog of up to 28,000 bags formed.

British Airways said in a statement on Monday that it remained "absolutely committed to resolving the problems associated with the initial move into Terminal 5".

More flights at Terminal 5 were cancelled on Sunday as a result of snowfall.

BA said 32 short-haul flights to and from the new terminal would be cancelled on Monday as a knock-on effect of the weather disruption.

Balpa is in dispute with British Airways over plans to start a new airline, BA OpenSkies, which will not use existing BA pilots.

Pilots had voted for industrial action, but BA applied for a legal injunction to prevent it going ahead.




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General Secretary of Balpa explains the dispute



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