David Prosser: A flight path for BAA after its terrible year


Outlook Bad luck certainly came in threes for BAA last year. The British Airways cabin crew strike was bad for the airports operator. The Icelandic volcano was worse. And then there was the snow, for which BAA thought it had prepared well, only to discover it hadn't.

After that trio of misfortune, maybe BAA should thank its lucky stars that it escaped with a loss of only £317m for 2010 (it prefers the Ebitda measure, on which it made a £967m profit after debt servicing costs and other adjustments). Still, the chief executive, Colin Matthews, like the bankers before him, felt obliged to waive his bonus payment of nearly £1m as an act of contrition for the debacle of the big freeze.

Will he have to do so again in future? Not if BAA hits the financial targets to which his bonuses are linked. Still, if Mr Matthews really wants to prove he is sorry about what happened in December – as he insisted on the BBC this week – what about doing a BP?

There, Bob Dudley has said that post-Deepwater Horizon, bonuses will be much more closely linked to the oil major's safety record. For Mr Matthews, the equivalent would be a better link to customer service performance.

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