Byline: TOM MCGHIE
He has taken part in the world's highest bungeejump-a708ftplungeat Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa. He has cycled 508 miles non-stop on aroute crossing Death Valley in America. But now Stephen Nelson, whose companyruns Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, is taking the biggest risk ofall.
He has thrown out the management maxim dictating that the customer is alwaysright and decided to turn the tables in the blame game on to his biggestclients - the airlines.
After months of fevered criticism for levels of service that have according todetractors transformed Heathrow, the UK's premier gateway, into a nationaldisgrace, BAA - owned by Spain's Ferrovial - has decided to take on itstormentors.
Chief executive Nelson and his senior team at the beleaguered company are sofed up with carrying the can for all the ills at their airports - ranging fromdirty loos, mucky carpets and broken escalators to baggage delays, hugecheck-in queues and lost luggage - that they have decided to take aim at theiraccusers, the airlines.
Financial Mail understands that Nelson is now considering publicising a nameand shame league table in an attempt to deflect the criticism. This willclearly identify the cause of the delays, whether at check-in, immigration orsecurity.
BAA is confident that the airlines, which are responsible for baggage handlingand check-in facilities, and the Home Office, which staffs the immigrationdesks, will be shown up as the real villains.
BAA is expected to consult airports regulator the Civil Aviation Authority andthe Government about how the league table will be compiled and it is sensitiveto the fact that a name and shame policy could become the source of yet moreconflict.
Its main target inevitably will be British Airways, which dominates Heathrowand which has incensed BAA by calling for it to be broken up. Airlines arguethat if Gatwick is sold, its management will compete with Heathrow and thatwill mean lower charges. At present it costs about [pounds sterling]10 per passenger to land aplane at Heathrow and only [pounds sterling]5 at Gatwick.
British Airways is privately furious that BAA should be seen to be trying topoint the finger at its main customer. …