Changing the Culture at British Airways

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1. What was life like at "old" British Airways?
Employees were embarrassed to mention they worked for the company. •British Airways stumbled into its 1979 state of inefficiency in large part because of its history and culture. •British Airways faced the worst crisis in its history in the late 1970’s early 1980’s. •Unless they took immediate action they were heading for a loss of at least £100 million within that present financial year. •They faced the potential that by that following April they had losses close to £250 million in two years. •A special bulletin was written by then chief executive Roy Watts issued to all staff stating the following: Even as I write to you, our money is draining at the rate of nearly £200 a minute. No business can survive losses on this scale. Unless we take decisive action now, there is a real possibility that British Airways will go out of business for lack of money. We have to cut our costs sharply, and we have to cut them fast. We have no more choice, and no more time. •All of these examples show the trouble the airlines was facing if they did not make substantial changes quickly. It was as though they were at a fork in the road and their fate could have gone either way. 2. What was difficult about making changes at British Airways bastion Mark •With the airline technically bankrupt, BA management and the government would have to wait before the public would be ready to embrace the ailing airline. •Productivity at BA in the 1970s was strikingly bad, especially in contrast to other leading foreign airlines. BA's productivity for the three years ending March 31, 1974, 1975, and 1976 had never exceeded 59 percent of that of the average of the other eight foreign airline leaders. Service suffered as well. One human resources senior manager recalled the “awful” service during her early years in passenger services. •With increasing competition and rising costs of labor in Britain in the late 1970s, the lack of...
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