Willie Walsh: ‘Heads should roll’ at Heathrow if chaos returns

Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye should be sacked if the airport suffers a repeat of the disruption seen this year, aviation veteran Willie Walsh has suggested.

Mr Walsh, the director general at International Airline Transport Association (Iata), said “heads should roll” if there is more chaos at the west London airport.

Speaking at the Airlines 2022 conference in Westminster, he noted that Dick Benschop, the boss of Amsterdam Schiphol airport, left the role in September amid huge criticism for major disruption.

Mr Walsh, the former chief executive of British Airways’ parent company IAG, said: “It’s largely Heathrow and Schiphol, and the CEO of Schiphol lost his job.

“So I think there’s a message there.

“There’s no excuse for it continuing. No excuse whatsoever.

“People ask me ‘are we going to face the same problems next year?’.

“If we do, heads should roll. Let’s be clear about it, because there’s no excuse.”

Sunday Morning
Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association (BBC/PA)

When Heathrow imposed a cap on daily departing passengers in July, Mr Holland-Kaye stated that this was largely due to airlines not recruiting enough ground handlers.

But Mr Walsh said: “I think the Government and the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) could have been more vocal in criticising Heathrow for their performance.

“I think allowing John Holland-Kaye to point the finger at airlines and say ‘it’s all the airlines’ fault’ was unacceptable, because it wasn’t all the airlines’ fault.”