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Sir Martin Broughton became chairman of British Airways in 2004. Since the BA/Iberia merger in 2011, he has held the dual roles of IAG deputy chair and BA chairman.
At the beginning of the year, Sir Martin left British Airways to concentrate on the IAG role; and Keith Williams became chief executive and executive chairman of BA.
But while it has been successful, his tenure has not always been easy. Sir Martin has weathered 9/11, the SARS crisis, the cabin crew dispute and the worst recession in living memory – all while finding time to chair the CBI and spend an eventful spell as chairman of Liverpool Football Club – which, as a lifelong Chelsea supporter, was one of his trickier assignments.
What’s behind the new governance structure?
There’s greater clarity; no-one is there wearing two hats. It’s the chairman and the IAG board who agree the strategy and do most of the external work – and as they are the PLC, that is exactly as it should be. So we concluded there’s no role for an independent chairman. It’s time to move on to the next stage, which is to recognise that the airlines are 100 per cent subsidiaries of the parent company and that subsidiary companies do some things and parent companies do others.
What message do you have for Premier cardholders?
I'd like to thank them for their loyalty to BA over the past decade. Since converting the card into a corporate benefit, reflecting high levels of corporate spend with BA, we have tried to continually upgrade the service and benefits of membership. The latest upgrade – offering one gold and two silver nominations – is designed to extend the benefit to the cardholder’s family.
How much progress has the airline made to improve the brand and customer experience?
The brand, in truth, is ahead of the delivery in terms of recognition, awareness, respect – we had dropped down the most respected brand list and now we are at the top. But you can see the way to getting there.
What have been your highlights?
The biggest contribution I’ve made was choosing the right chief executives. It’s worked well. The biggest impact in my personal life as chairman has been T5. Pre-T5, at a social event, I just got brickbats. Post, I get more compliments than complaints. It makes flying and going to the airport a different experience to what it was.
And you’ll be flying more now, or less?
More – I have more time on my hands. I go over to New York a lot to see my American grandchildren. And I’ll be at Rio for the World Cup. The tickets are booked.