Dear Willie Walsh,
I am writing to express my astonishment at the tone of the below email. After the couple of years BA has had - persistent delays, record baggage losses, thousands of bags piled up on the tarmac, a disastrous failure to launch T5 efficiently, gladiatorial union negotiations, tickets being sold for thousands of pounds while people sleep on airport floors (all accompanied by a steady growth in prices) - I would have expected at the very least that you could do better than simply point your unhappy and disgruntled customers to your website for information.
I am equally amazed at the fact that you would boast of the actions taken to fly stranded passengers back to their homes; with many still stranded, that is a monumentally insensitive approach to customer satisfaction. In fact it reminds me of nothing so much as David Brent's announcement to his staff that their jobs are about to be made redundant: "there is a silver lining though - I still have a job".
A dedicated helpline, some investment in customer communications, a clearly outlined action plan to bring home the stranded and compensate the unhappy... Any and all of these things would have made you sound more like a business magnate and less like a comedy character, Mr Walsh. You have lead your organisation from weakness to weakness, and it would behove you to show more humility in the face of what those of us in the reality-based community like to call "facts".
The volcano in Iceland resulted in the closure of UK airspace for six days and mass chaos across the country.
In the history of our business, we’ve never had a situation like this. The cancellations meant that in some parts of the world, we had backlogs of thousands of our customers unable to come home.
When faced with such challenges, I know that our customers expect British Airways to respond well.
We did everything in our power to secure the safe re-opening of airspace. Since then our number one priority has been to get our stranded customers home and I would like to thank you personally for your patience and understanding during this unique period.
As well as flying our normal schedule using every available British Airways aircraft, we’ve also flown 14 extra longhaul services from destinations such as Hong Kong, Bangkok and Dubai.
We made sure available seats on all our inbound flights were protected for British Airways customers trying to get home. We appealed to other customers booked to fly, whose travel was not essential, to accept a refund to clear more seats.
Although we will not rest until all of you are home, we will have flown between 70 – 90,000 people per day, including many thousands who were stranded.
While we continue to do as much as we can for you, I appreciate that there will have been occasions where we may not have been able to help as much as we would have liked. If, however, you do still need to contact us, please visit ba.com for information on how to do this.
This was an exceptional event in British Airways’ history and colleagues from across the airline came together to do everything possible to assist. In response, many of our customers have taken the time to write to me or other colleagues at British Airways to express their thanks for what we were able to do. I am very grateful to all our customers for their continuing support.