British Airways’ embattled CEO Willie Walsh is making clear that he has no intention of standing down over the troubled launch of the airline’s operations at the new London Heathrow Terminal 5 despite accepting personal responsibility for the crisis.
Interviewed on the UK’s Sky News, Walsh said: “I am bitterly disappointed that [the opening] wasn’t a success and wasn’t the success that I believe it could have and should have been.”
But asked if he should resign he declared: “I am not resigning. I am determined to make this work. My position as CEO has always been that I wasn’t going celebrate on the first day because I have never defined success as making it work on day one.
“I said I would look back after the first year of operation of T5 and say was that a success? And I still believe that one year on I will sit here and tell you what a success T5 was.”
As delays and cancellations continued to plague the showpiece operation, Walsh added: “I have to take responsibility because the buck rests with me. We should have done better. I believed we were ready but we clearly weren’t.”
He blamed “small issues” on the first day that compounded to a situation in which BA could not regain control.
“We were behind the eight-ball from very early on in the morning to the point where late in the evening we had to shut down the check-in because the baggage system just could not cope,” said the CEO.
Read Kieran Daly's blog on how Eurostar cashed in on Walsh's Sky News interview.