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CEO of IAG called to appear before Transport Select Committee : Monday 11 May

CEO of IAG called to appear before Transport Select Committee : Monday 11 May

Old May 10, 20, 10:32 am
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CEO of IAG called to appear before Transport Select Committee : Monday 11 May

The Commons Select Committee intends to hold an evidence session with Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of the International Airlines Group and parent company of British Airways, on Monday, 11 May.

This from www.parliament.co.uk

“On 24th April, the Transport Select Committee agreed to hold an inquiry on the Aviation sector amidst the challenges from Covid19.

The first evidence session on May 6 will comprise separate panels covering consumer rights, airport operators and representatives from the airline industry. As the UK’s largest airline, British Airways (BA) was invited to give evidence and face questioning.

BA refused to attend explaining that Willie Walsh, the Chief Executive of its parent, International Airlines Group (AIG), would be unavailable due to a board meeting. It was made clear that no other representative would be made available.

Subsequent to this response:
  • IAG announced plans to make 12,000 of BA’s 42,000 workforce redundant and vary the terms and conditions of BA staff who retain their jobs;
  • IAG took out a EUR1 billion loan, guaranteed by the Spanish Government (having previously stated that it would administer ‘self-help’ before applying for Government aid and being critical of competitors who had requested state-assistance); and
  • An investigation has estimated that airlines, including BA, are sitting on £7 billion of passenger refunds and offering future travel vouchers rather than returning the cash as consumer rights require.
As a result of these developments, the Transport Select Committee reiterated that BA should attend the inquiry on 6 May. The Committee were understanding of Mr Walsh’s duties in the boardroom and explained that any alternative senior manager of BA or IAG would be welcomed. BA responded that all senior managers may also be needed to attend the boardroom during the allotted slot. BA thereby refused to attend the evidence session on 6 May, as has been reported in media.

Today, Mr Walsh has offered additional dates in order to give evidence to the inquiry. Although parliamentary resources are more restricted than usual, a provisional evidence session has become available on 11 May. More details will be announced in due course.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP, said:

It seems remarkable that British Airways cannot find anyone with sufficient responsibility to join others from the aviation sector for our Select Committee inquiry this Wednesday. With so many questions, this would be an ideal platform for BA to set out its challenges, to reassure and seek Parliamentary support should it need more assistance from the UK authorities.

“In March, BA’s parent, IAG, warned against the UK Government bailing out its competitors and said it would administer ‘self-help’ before seeking support. BA’s UK staff are now facing mass redundancies or working on vastly reduced terms. BA’s passengers are not being given flight refunds they are entitled to.

“In Spain, it would appear that BA’s parent has adopted a different strategy of seeking substantial Government financial support and maintaining its operations and employee numbers.

It’s vital that BA reassure their staff and passengers that they are not using this epidemic to reduce their UK wage bill and competitors, in order to maximise future profits if and when the market returns.

“Judging by the huge volume of emails which MPs are receiving from concerned staff and passengers, it is more important that we hear from BA and IAG than demonstrate their lack of delegated responsibility.

[NB : bold / italics added to quoted text]
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Old May 10, 20, 10:43 am
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Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. I shall watch with bated breath...

It is remarkable and rather sly that not a senior person could attend on the 6th May
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Old May 10, 20, 10:47 am
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Originally Posted by subject2load View Post

Today, Mr Walsh has offered additional dates in order to give evidence to the inquiry.
That would seem to be a fair response.So what's the fuss?
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Old May 10, 20, 10:52 am
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It's live on BBC Parliament tomorrow from 10am. Judging by the tone of the statement above, I suspect WW will be in for a rough ride.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000j64c
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Old May 10, 20, 10:53 am
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Mr Walsh will be Zooming in at around 10:00 hrs BST for those wishing to watch. This is the scheduled URL, which should work for those outside the UK and Ireland, but it may change on the day.

https://parliamentlive.tv/event/inde...e-e7fe97ac55bb
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Old May 10, 20, 11:04 am
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I think if I were CEO of a company that's in an industry in a dire situation, and you are asked to give evidence/information to the one body that can bail you out, you'd move your board meeting! It's no different to snubbing your next door neighbour who is the bank manager, then going to him in a month's time and asking for a loan.

Short sighted by WW in my view.
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Old May 10, 20, 11:07 am
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Originally Posted by HIDDY View Post
That would seem to be a fair response.So what's the fuss?
No ‘fuss’ ....... other than the fact that Mr Walsh seemingly attached so little importance to the original session that it then took him from April 24 to May 5 to actually offer a new date. Oh ..... and also the minor issue that 12,000 jobs are at stake.

Anyway ..... more to the point of the thread : herewith the exact agenda for the hearing :

Witness

Monday 11 May 2020, Virtual meeting

At 10.00am
  • Willie Walsh, Chief Executive, International Airlines Group (IAG)
Focus of the session

The committee is expected to examine a number of issues, including:
  • The future of the airline industry
  • Redundancies, and terms and conditions for staff who retain their jobs
  • Government support
  • Refunds
  • Protection of workers and passengers
Please note that Parliament has stopped all non-essential visitor access to both Houses due to the circumstances around coronavirus. The session, will be available to watch online and a transcript for the session will be published on the website a few days afterwards.

https://www.parliament.uk/business/c...idence-19-21-/
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Old May 10, 20, 11:21 am
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Originally Posted by subject2load View Post
  • The future of the airline industry
  • Redundancies, and terms and conditions for staff who retain their jobs
  • Government support
  • Refunds
  • Protection of workers and passengers
Short meeting then!

WW answers,
  • We're Sc***ed thanks to the 14 day isolation rule
  • I cannot offer comment as it's part of an ongoing consultation
  • What can you offer?
  • EU261 applies
  • See answers 2 & 4 above
(Only "slightly" in jest...)
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Old May 10, 20, 11:27 am
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Hopefully this will be a fairly informative appearance. Too often these types of thing are an excuse for certain politicians looking to make a name for themselves by shouting at the guests and putting on an over the top performance for the cameras. I wonder if the remote nature of this will make for a more sane discussion. Maybe not though.

The recent announcement and the possible 14 day quarantine will I'm sure spark some conflict.
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Old May 10, 20, 11:31 am
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To me it gives me hope there won't be a quarantine period as why bother interrogating WW tomorrow.
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Old May 10, 20, 11:32 am
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Originally Posted by HighwayToHEL View Post
I think if I were CEO of a company that's in an industry in a dire situation, and you are asked to give evidence/information to the one body that can bail you out, you'd move your board meeting! It's no different to snubbing your next door neighbour who is the bank manager, then going to him in a month's time and asking for a loan.

Short sighted by WW in my view.
But it's not a body that can bail out BA/IAG. The committee is a parliamentary body, (ie a collection of MPs) not a government one. This point was highlighted well and recently when the Home Secretary appeared to dodge her invitation to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee on COVID for a length of time that many saw as inexplicable.
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Old May 10, 20, 11:33 am
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Mr Walsh, when he does appear in public, is not known for sticking to "No comment" sort of answers so I expect we'll get some answers. Whether they'll be the answers you want to hear is not certain, but I'm sure he'll have answers that suit him and IAG.
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Old May 10, 20, 11:33 am
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Originally Posted by paulaf View Post
To me it gives me hope there won't be a quarantine period as why bother interrogating WW tomorrow.
Because the two matters are not mutually exclusive.
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Old May 10, 20, 11:39 am
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Originally Posted by paulaf View Post
To me it gives me hope there won't be a quarantine period as why bother interrogating WW tomorrow.
Select Committees are scrutiny bodies and cannot draw their membership from the executive. So Monday's event is emphatically not the government questioning Mr. Walsh, those on the Committee will be drawn from backbench MPs including the Opposition.

EDIT: If you have a question you would like Mr. Walsh to answer, a polite and succint Tweet to Huw Merriman may get traction.
https://twitter.com/huwmerriman
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Last edited by corporate-wage-slave; May 10, 20 at 11:49 am
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Old May 10, 20, 11:50 am
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
Select Committees are scrutiny bodies and cannot draw their membership from the executive. So Monday's event is emphatically not the government questioning Mr. Walsh, those on the Committee will be drawn from backbench MPs including the Opposition.
Still sure to be interesting for such a community as Flyertalk.

I think we can all agree, and hope, the industry can find a way through this situation without being completely turned on itís head.

I, as I'm sure many of you, am already starting to really miss travel. Not to mention those who have livelihoods that depend on a functioning travel business.
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