Monday, January 10, 2011

Handmaidens to the government

Virgin Atlantic has said it is not going to pay its Heathrow landing and parking charges due from 1 January, to the tune of about £10 million, until it sees the results of an internal inquiry into the disruption during the snow last month. "Because while we accept, and indeed we did, step up to our responsibilities to look after our customers, we feel they should [the airport operators] also feel some of that accountability," the airline says.

Steve Ridgway, Virgin's chief executive, says: "We want this inquiry to really focus on what happened and when the airport reasonably should have reopened and then we want compensation for all the costs we unnecessarily incurred after that".

"We're going to do that by holding back the fees we pay BAA and when the inquiry comes out we will happily sit down and work out what the right numbers are."

Needless to say, the leaden corporate response from BAA's owners absolutely typifies the problem: "Heathrow's conditions of use do not provide any basis for Virgin Atlantic or any other airline to withhold airport charges," it says.

This is in response to one of its largest clients. You can imagine the problems a human being might have dealing with this monolith. Corporates? All the same, part of the problem, and handmaidens to the government in their insensitivity and insolence.