The first topic debated at yesterday's CEO Forum was the thorny one of labour, and it was no surprise that moderator Nik Gowing called on British Airways chief Willie Walsh for his views. "We have rewarded trade unions for doing the wrong things and haven't been brave enough in the past to stand up and say no," said Walsh. During the current stage of the BA cabin crew strike the carrier is flying 80% of its long-haul schedule said Walsh, and "we're going to hold out for as long as it takeswe cannot ignore the inefficiencies we see in our industry".
The panel agreed that while labour costs have to be tackled, a collaborative approach works for some, such as at US low-fare carrier JetBlue Airways. In its model, "tough love" discussions with labour take place over costs but "we're steadfast that this is a better model for us going forward", said JetBlue head Dave Barger.
There is more realism in evidence from some staff over the need for change, said Walsh. "We have pilots acting as cabin crew in order to keep BA flying."