19 August 2005

Three strikes and you're out

Now that British Airways have got their flights, if not food, back in order, they'll be trying to assess what long-term damage last week's strikes caused.

I fear, and I suspect they fear, that it will be disastrous. That's because this is the third peak summer season strike they've had in a row. Whatever the background to the strikes, holiday-makers will see one disrupted holiday as bad luck. Two will be forgiven as a horrible co-incidence. But three strikes and you're out. Very many British travellers will not forget and will not fly with BA in the summer months for a long time to come.

You have to feel sorry for BA, but not much. Quite what possessed them eight years ago to outsource such a mission-critical part of their operation as catering, completely mystifies me. A large part of the business logic behind outsourcing is that you squeeze best prices and quality from a number of suppliers. If you simply sell your own catering division to another (foreign) company who are then your sole supplier, you gain nothing and lose...control.

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