BA’s Walsh blasts government growth plans

International Airlines Group chief executive Willie Walsh has delivered a blistering attack on the government’s failure to keep pace with emerging countries.

He and Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester warned that UK companies lack the confidence to invest.

They were speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce conference, addressing a business audience on the issues holding back UK growth.

Walsh described the UK’s aviation policy as an “unholy mess”, while China was building 55 airports over the next eight years, and said Air Passenger Duty had already cost 25,000 roles and was “choking off jobs”.

He said the coalition changed its policy for growth “every other week,” the Daily Telegraph reported.

Walsh accused ministers of being more “Norse than Inuit” – referring to the Greenland community which failed to adapt to environmental changes – with ministers refusing to recognise the power shift from West to East.

Walsh warned that Britain was failing to keep pace with emerging markets in China and India, adding Germany spends half as much again on research and development as the UK.

“It’s little wonder we have such poor growth when we do so little to make it happen,” he said.

“When I say that we don’t have a plan for growth, I need to be a little more specific. We don’t have a single plan for growth. We have one every other week… The words are always warm but they go cold waiting for action.”

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