British Airways and the art of delivering bad news

Breaking bad news to clients is always tricky but a bit of intelligence might be able to soften the blow. A few days ago British Airways sent me an email to let me know that the Gatwick-Munich route I use (indeed their only route I’ve used lately) is to be axed from the start of the 2006 summer season.

While this is incredibly annoying at least I know about it. In the next paragraph they try to soften the blow by letting me know that there are going to be additional flights from Heathrow. intelligence fails them however because I don’t have access to Heathrow and their database already knows this.

The result isn’t a softened blow but rather a reminder on how Channel Islanders are Heathrow-less since BA purchased Guernsey’s slots at Heathrow airport from KLM subsidiary Air UK back in 1998 for a reported £14.5m. Our government fought the loss of a vital route – and lost.

The fact I could get to Gatwick at all is no thanks to BA either. They purchased regional operator Cityflyer and their Guernsey-Gatwick route back in 1988 too.

Fresh from the Heathrow wound our government raised valid concerns with the appropriate regulatory group that they believed BA would sell off the Guernsey-Gatwick slots or use them for non-Guernsey routes. Cityflyer assured us that would not be the case and the deal went ahead.

BA did of course suspended this route a few years later claiming the aircraft needed to be retired. I don’t know what happened to the slots but I can only guess.

Is it any wonder that our government decided to purchase one of the two airlines that services Guernsey to make sure it carries on? Personally I would rather have seen the government purchase slots at the essential airports and sub-lease them to the airlines, perhaps with a little subsidy but hey I’m not a politician.

I’m trying to be a traveller.


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