Committed scrutinisers of spin-doctory, smoke, mirrors and sleights of communications hand (i.e. everyone in this office) took our collective hats off this week to BAA, the airport owner formerly known as British Airports Authority.
The brave owners of Heathrow airport, a global transport hub and vital economic conduit for the UK plc, had, as you may recall, a little local difficulty during the last winter.
Some snow fell in Britain and the airport ground to a halt. OK, it was quite a lot of snow and it was cold, but in the 21st century we had rather hoped that our main airport could do better than a couple of chaps with shovels to sort it out.
Perhaps it was because they rarely have snow in Spain that the chance of snow was not factored heavily into the Spanish-owned airport’s plans? Who knows? Sadly that ‘who’ included the people who run the airport.
Succeeding brilliantly in performing the impossible – that is, taking the heat off the rail companies – BAA made us an international embarrassment.
BAA had an inquest into the whole affair and has accepted the 14 recommendations made. You can read them here.
Recommendation 10 begins “There should be a review of the process through which airport status changes and capacity constraint agreements are converted into updated airline flight schedules, and subsequently published on the websites of airlines and BAA, and on terminal flight information display screens. “
Like all great reviews it includes a recommendation that there is a review. Never mind, there is progress and BAA now has 166 pieces of snow clearing equipment (including sweepers, you will be relieved to hear) compared to 47 in December.
Let’s hope that, unlike the rail companies, they don’t get them in for maintenance next December.
But, you may have missed all this. How could that be? I hear you say.
Well, the report came out the day after the budget. And the day after the budget is pretty busy with the chancellor and the shadow chancellor (and did you notice his brother , Andrew, turning up all over the place as well ) and a bunch of economists and lots of others, commenting on the thing. So there wasn’t all that much space left for BAA.
Adam Shaw from the Today business team did his manful best at 07.19 to give it some lift off but ceo Colin Mathews had been well-schooled in deflection and the interview ended with a score draw.
The media trainers at Pitch-Perfect were impressed with Matthews, as we are great fans of Adam and still regard his roasting of a Pepsico chief executive as one of the great interviews of our time.
Thereafter the BAA story bobbled along but really didn’t take-off – in much the same way as the planes didn’t take off in December.
We spin watchers turned very objective and admired the BAA comms team for its timing. Close enough to a big event to avoid a media avalanche and far enough away to avoid being tarred with the Jo Moore (where is she now?) brush of finding a good day to bury the bad news reminder. That doesn’t necessarily mean we approve, but it was well done.
While we are in burial mood, we should also say that we greatly admired Elizabeth Taylor. This is not least for her exit, which was delayed by 15 minutes from schedule so she could truly be late for her own funeral.