The forthcoming Easter weekend marks one of the busiest travel periods of the year. As is now commonplace, there are extensive engineering works taking place on the London Underground and the UK’s national rail network which may affect travel times to London’s airports.
We recently browsed the archives of BBC Radio 4’s long running series “Desert Island Discs” and found two recordings from over 20 years ago, featuring two giants of aviation.
The first is Lord King, the former Chairman of British Airways who, together with Colin Marshall, oversaw the transition of BA from a nationalised industry to the “World’s Favourite Airline”. The second is Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic.
The interview with Lord King was first broadcast on 19 April 1991. The interview with Sir Richard Branson was first broadcast 9 June 1989. Both were interviewed by Sue Lawley.
Whilst the interview Lord King covers much of his time at British Airways, the interview with Sir Richard Branson barely touches on Virgin Atlantic – the main focus being Virgin Records which at the time was owned by Virgin. At the time Virgin Atlantic was just five years’ old. Interestingly, the relationship between the two airlines, which was to later sour significantly, isn’t mentioned in either interview.
The contrasting styles of Lord King and Sir Richard Branson are very much evident in the interviews.
That said, whilst Lord King does come across as a little cold at first he does warm up later into the interview. Furthermore, whilst Lord King’s style is seen as very much from a different era of business, so much so that Financial Times journalist Lucy Kellaway once wrote of his “bombastic rudeness” (legend has it that Lord King personally ordered the removal of BA advertising from the Financial Times after he took exception to a profile of him written by the paper), it is clear he has a genuine passion for business.
Furthermore, there is little Lord King says in the interview that many current aviation CEOs of today (Willie Walsh of International Airlines Group or Richard Anderson of Delta) would disagree with, particularly the references to the need for rational decision making and that sometimes painful decisions have to be made in the long term interests of the company.
Lord King also complains about government regulation and the barriers to true consolidation in the industry – two issues which are very much alive today.
As far as music choices go, neither interviews yield little surprises. The Flower Duet from Lakmé, famous for its use in many BA ads, features in Lord King’s choices. Many famous tracks from the Virgin Records back catalogue feature in Sir Richard Branson’s choices.
You can listen to the Lord King interview here and the Sir Richard Branson here.
Sadly, there was one other programme we would have loved to have covered here. That is an interview with the late Alan Whicker from 1967 but, alas, there is no audio online.
Here are a few new & noteworthy items for today, Friday 7 June 2013:
Air France KLM has identified a preferred buyer for CityJet. Intro Aviation GmbH is the preferred bidder. (Bloomberg)
Following the recent confirmation of the opening of London Heathrow Terminal 2, Heathrow Airport has published a list of which airlines are moving in to the terminal and when. United Airlines is the first airline to move on 4 June 2014, with Air China, Air Canada and ANA following two weeks later on 18 June. (Heathrow Airport)
US based blogger “Million Mile Secrets” has published a detailed guide to the Lufthansa Miles & More frequent flyer programme. Although written from a US perspective, following the demise of the bmi “Diamond Club” frequent flyer programme, Lufthansa Miles & More is the main Star Alliance programme in Europe. Parts one to six of the eight part series are now online. (Million Mile Secrets)
Here are a few new & noteworthy items for, today, Thursday 25 April:
What role do Europe’s small state carriers have to play? (FlightGlobal)
How British Airways is using IT to know more about its passengers and drive ancillary sales (Computer Weekly)
Aer Lingus to wet lease three Boeing 757 aircraft to operate new transatlantic services to as yet unspecified destinations in 2014 (Aer Lingus Corporate)
And a salutary reminder for airlines to never take for granted the operational challenges of airline mergers and their reputations for operational reliability United posts its Q1 results that are markedly behind its peers. (United Continental Holdings Investor Relations)
Here are a few new & noteworthy items for today, Sunday 21 April 2013:
Lufthansa flights next week are to be disrupted by industrial action by staff (Lufthansa)
Qantas’ retreat from Europe concludes with the end of its service from Sydney to Frankfurt (Plane Talking)
Iberia imposes further pay cuts on staff under the terms of arbitration as productivity talks with the unions fail to conclude (the pilots union SEPLA did not attend the talks) but has offered to reverse the cuts if talks successfully resume.
An Open Skies agreement between the EU and Israel has prompted industrial action by El Al staff (Bloomberg)
Sir Richard Branson complains about the “Big Three” US airlines and the competitive activity by United against Virgin America. This is the same Richard Branson that owns 51% of Virgin Atlantic, with the remaining 49% owned by its forthcoming joint-venture partner Delta.