The Business On: Colin Matthews, Chief executive, BAA

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The Independent Online

The Grinch who stole Christmas?

That's a bit harsh. Mr Matthews may run the company in charge of Heathrow, but he doesn't make the weather. And while BAA has come in for criticism about its response to the cold snap – why couldn't it get more flights away, or at least communicate with passengers more effectively? – the snow has been unusually heavy.

Still, he's the man in charge

True – and he hasn't been doing too much talking. Whilst the likes of British Airways boss Willie Walsh have been facing the cameras very regularly, BAA has mostly beenleaving the interviews to its media relations staff, though Mr Matthews did surface yesterday.

Maybe he's been out shovelling snow and de-icing planes?

Maybe. Mr Matthews is a calm, practical man, best known in business circles for having taken on a string of troubleshooting jobs at companies with problems.

Not on this scale, though?

Well, he had to handle the fall-out of a Serious Fraud Office investigation at Severn Trent when he was chief executive at the water company and he was brave enough to restructure himself out of a job during his period running the conglomerate Hays. He's had his fair share of fun at BAA, too – it is in the process of being broken up by regulators and has failed in abattle to win permission for a third runway at Heathrow.

The trouble with these company bosses is they're all finance guys

Not Mr Matthews. He's an engineer by trade and describes himself as an "obsessive" about the operational side of the businesses he runs. Make no mistake: aware that this crisis threatens his reputation as a safe pair of hands, and embarrassed about the way Britain's biggest airport has turned into a refugee centre, he'll be smarting just now.

Sounds like he needs a break?

If only he could get away, figuratively or literally. Still, the snow and ice will thaw eventually, so maybe Mr Matthews might find a bit of time to indulge his passion: skiing.