British Airways boss Willie Walsh was jeered and heckled by cabin crew at the carrier’s annual general meeting in London on Tuesday.
Crew who are shareholders challenged Walsh over his handling of a dispute with union Unite that has led to 22 days of strikes since March and disputed the BA chief executive’s claims about the level of disruption these caused to services.
One shareholder who does not work for BA told reporters: “I don’t know who to believe.” Another told Walsh during the meeting: “I feel this situation has created long-term damage to the brand.”
However, BA chairman Martin Broughton affirmed support for Walsh, telling shareholders the airline’s board “stands firmly behind Willie”. Walsh said afterwards: “I really enjoyed it.”
BA and the union remain at loggerheads over the disciplinary action taken against some crew members who supported strikes and the withdrawal of strikers’ travel perks.
Crew are being balloted on a revised BA offer that, if accepted, would settle the dispute. A rejection could see a fresh strike ballot and resumption of strikes in early September.
The meeting of BA shareholders was likely to be the last of its kind in London. The merger of BA with Iberia, due to be confirmed by December, will establish a joint company known as International Airlines Group that will be registered in Madrid.
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